The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

UI design

Im helping my friend with his software UI design, it's called "Alligator Data Guard" (file/disk encryption software) and i just can't convince him to change his outdated looking UI

look at the screenshots and tell me I am wrong and i will stop harassing him about this UI :)

What would you change about it?
Mike Send private email
Monday, November 17, 2008
The alligator graphics are WAY over the top.  Something much simpler, perhaps a little more stylized (line drawing?)

Otherwise, the dialog boxes are a little cluttered, but sometimes that's what you need.  They're acceptable, if only the alligator pictures weren't in each one.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Maybe ONE splash screen with the alligator, and then 'plain' dialogs after that.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The toolbar buttons are awful, almost looking identical.

And what is with MS Sans Serif font for all of the controls?  It's not 1995 anymore!

The system font went to Tahoma some time ago, and Segoe UI more recently.  See et al.
So tired
Monday, November 17, 2008
My biggest beef is the actual way that the user is expected to interact with the system. Having a different button for each task seems crazy to me. Especially since they all look exact the same. Having separate buttons for each encryption and decryption option just makes it look really cluttered. Also, if he decides to add more options ("encrypt/Decrypt Email" for example) then he has to make room for two more options.

I guess my vote would be to have a single encrypt button and a single decrypt button. These buttons match the typical workflow that a user is expecting. Then these buttons take you to another screen which lets you choose the source (file, folder, disk, email, sound from mic, etc.).

As for the fonts, they aren't bad but they could definitely be better. And the alligator has to go. As someone else said it belongs on a splash screen or as a small image up in a corner. Not as the focal point of the main screen.

That's my 2 cents.
dood mcdoogle
Monday, November 17, 2008
By the way, I like the artwork. Did he draw those himself or did he get them online somewhere?
dood mcdoogle
Monday, November 17, 2008
Another option might be to use a web-like navigation/content arrangement. So the left side would be a vertical navigation area with a group for encryption and a group for decryption. Under the group headers would be links for file/disk/folder/email/etc. When you click one of the links the right content area shows the options for that function (including a "go" or "do it" button to complete the task).

These are just a couple of ideas that come to mind. Do some reading on Inductive User Interfaces to get some more ideas. You want to balance how hard a task is with how often someone has to do it. On one end of the spectrum you have hard tasks that are rarely performed (like taxes). These make good candidates for wizard interfaces. On the other end of the spectrum you have simple tasks that the user performs often (like email). Wizard interfaces do not work well with these.

The idea is to meet the expectations of the user by matching the interface to the task at hand.
dood mcdoogle
Monday, November 17, 2008
bad: Fonts, remove bold lettering, toolbar icons, graphics
good: whatever is left
ScottK Send private email
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Bold font in all edits - uggh!.

Not using the system font - bad.

Screenshots in Vista will look better.

Workflow - probably bad, but needs more careful consideration than the 5 second glance.

Looks like a classic case of the 'keyhole problem' (google on it). Lots of small screens that could better utilise the screen real estate.
Grant Black Send private email
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Here's how I see it:

Simple alligator logo on top of dialog or splash screen (maybe single color line-art)

Application should start with 3 options (Encrypt, Decrypt, Settings), remove all existing toolbars, menus, buttons.

Encrypt/Decrypt should start a wizard to select what type of data to encrypt (file, folder, disk)

Next step would be to select The file/folder/disk and type of encryption - Replace "Encryption Method" by a button that allows to choose something other than the default - it will show a dialog with checkboxes ("Use a keyfile", "Use a password")

Next step would be selecting a destination, and if they want to delete the original file(s).

Next step is the progress bar.

You should have less settings in "Options..."

HWID screen shows too much information.

Generate Keyfile should only be accessible from the "Encrypt" wizard.

Change font to detect Vista and use Segoe UI, and otherwise use Tahoma.

Remove all those "Group Boxes", and declutter the screens.

Have a look at truecrypt for inspiration.
Totally Agreeing
Friday, November 21, 2008
Some things to consider by category:
- User will want to encrypt a large number of selected items. Tree or other selection paradigm will be a lot more useful than either single file or folder. Why are there even two different options. Picking a file or a folder is the exact same work.
- Separating out the options is actually good an useful to this design. It looks like these are things that would rarely change so it is go to isolate them from the basic workflow.
- Offer a way to automatically generate output name from input name. In this way the user will noeed to select output each time. Most users will want something with the same name just indicating it was encrypted, like with a extra extension, a sequential name, or an encrypted name. They should not be force to type in a name each time. Typing is hard relative to click. Everuthing else can be done with clicks.
- The most notable item is a large graph that is not even encorporated into the program. It provide no useful information.
- Everything is duplicated multiple times actually impeding navigation. There is an icon, a button and presumably a menu item. Why so many.
- Does this need menus at all. It looks like all it takes is 6 buttons: Encrypt, Decrypt, Generate Key, Setting and Wipe Data.
- Gernerating extra windows is not necessary. Perhaps 6 tabs by button name and the whole main screen is no longer necessary except maybe the "Your hardware ID" although I am not sure what use that has.
Naming and small things:
- Remove excess words so reading is quicker. Why "Please select directory to decrypt" why not "Directory to decrypt"
- The group is called File Option. This is not the same as the File dialog on the options page. In fact there are separate menu items for File and Options. So the naming should be made more consistent.
Avrum Cohen Send private email
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'll go against the consensus and say that the alligator graphics (which look like oil paintings) are cool and the windows should be changed so the graphics take over the whole screens, with textured backgrounds everywhere.
Monday, November 24, 2008
"I'll go against the consensus and say..."

Honestly, it doesn't matter what you say. The OP is long gone without so much as a thank you. This forum really burns my ass. Why do people post crap asking you to do them a favor and then never even come back and acknowledge that they've seen what people posted! Ridiculous! Is it that freaking hard to say "thanks"?
grumble man
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Drop teh alligator - you need a Rastafarian!
Yep, I said it.
Thursday, December 11, 2008

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz