Publication Date: 4/30/2009 8:14:34 AM
All I wanted to do was to create some calendar entries. A date, some times, and a description. Not too tough.
Except the person who created the user interface has clearly not spent a lot of time actually doing this task. Take a look at the form:
Now consider for a moment how annoying it is to enter start and end times on this form. It always defaults to “01:00 AM”, which of course is NEVER the start time for one of my appointments. So I must always change the first drop down value. And if the appointment starts on the half hour, I must scroll through 30 entries. Who thought this was a good idea? (Not to mention that since the end date doesn’t default to the start date, for most cases I must pick the date a second time. Yuck.)
Then I get the privilege of doing the same thing for the end time. The end time also starts at 01:00 AM”. Since most of my meetings are approximately 1 hour, if it started on the half hour I get to scroll that time yet again. Lame.
As a programmer, I understand why the programmers picked drop down lists. It starts with these basic notions:
Which is all well and good, until you actually think about what users are trying to do. They are trying to create appointments. Quickly. There isn’t much info that is required for an appointment (dates and times and a description). Making it harder is really stupid.
Compare the above to this control time picker, available from Peter Blum:
The popup list of times to select only appears if I click on the little clock next to the textbox. This is lovely because since most of my appointments are during regular business hours and on the hour or half hour, I can just pick a time. Or if I need to enter a different time, I can just type it. No pesky drop down lists to scroll through for 45 minutes past the hour.
There is also the approach used in Backpack: just entering the whole thing in a text box, and letting the application parse it out.
This is the most complex option from a programming perspective. I also have mixed feelings about it for end users. I think for some users this is a welcome approach, but for others this takes some getting used to.
But the bottom line is that either of these second options was much more thought out than the crappy option with the drop down lists.
Jacki Hollywood Brown
on 04 May
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