Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sometimes, GUI means Graphically Un-Intuitive

Or maybe it's just me. But when I look at the bottom of the Firefox Bookmarks Library window (launched by Bookmarks → Show All Bookmarks) …

Screenshot of Firefox Bookmarks Library window(embiggen)

… the arrows seem to be pointing in the wrong directions.

Partial screenshot of Firefox Bookmarks Library window, showing bottom 'more/less' portion collapsed

Partial screenshot of Firefox Bookmarks Library window, showing bottom 'more/less' portion expanded

Doesn't look so wrong when you zoom in on just that part, but given that this is at the very bottom of the window (first screenshot above), it just feels wrong.

This has been your nanocomplaint of the day. You are now free to move about the cabin.


Jack said...

Fascinating. It's always interesting to hear what people think about interface design.

I don't see how an up arrow would indicate "click to expand the view below," though. Or how a down arrow would indicate "close the thing above." But I have been in plenty of debates about arrows and the directions they should point to know different people see this differently.

Jack said...

Apparently someone at Firefox thought it wasn't entirely intuitive; thus the decision to spell out what the buttons do with the words "more" and "less." I hate it when an interface needs written instructions right on it. :-)

I was going to say that the down arrows as they are used in the case you cite are among the most well understood and common interface elements. Indeed, there are six - count 'em, SIX -- other down arrows that operate in a similar fashion in that very screenshot. Three of them are in the menu bar, adjacent to Organize, Views, and Import & Backup. Two are on scrollbars. And the last one is attached to the Tags field. I don't know about the last one, but the others all operate on the same principle: "If you click this, hidden stuff below will become visible."