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September 04, 2004


Adam Kontras

Wow. How the hell did you find me? LOL.


It would seem that if Microsoft made it harder to move the Taskbar, then they didn't want users to move it, and didn't suspect that many would bother to figure it out. That's not developers being lazy or lacking confidence, that's Microsoft trying to corral all of its users into working the same way. That's all good and fine from a support perspective, but as you readily admit, it kind of spoils the user experience for those who wish to customize it to their needs and/or preferences. I personally think the latter is more important, but then again, I don't have to spend my time and money to help Grandma straighten out her Taskbar.

With that said, so what if Microsoft didn't think of every concievable permutation of its interface? What else is new? I don't see how the example shown is such big deal. I mean, a real crime would have been not including a way to get rid of the balloon altogether, don't you agree? Or maybe if it was bright red...and constantly blinked.

Chris McEvoy

Personalisation is an abdication of design.

If you don't have enough faith in the design decisions you make then personalise it and make the user responsible instead.

A Designers Intention is not persoanlisation. When I move my mouse across a winfow I am not personalising the position of my cursor.

If you see anything that looks like personalisation then it means that the designer ran out of steam.

Bruce Morgan

I would recommend that you never use persoanlisation. Instead, design the best solution you can and present that your users, they won't complain about the lack of personalisation if your design is a good one.

If only it were that simple.

Personalization allows users to tailor their experience to suit their particular needs and wants. If I don't allow my product to work the way my users want it to work, then they may just go to a competitor that does.

In MSN, we have a feedback system where users can voice their complaints, make suggestions, etc. I would get rolled-up feedback on a weekly basis, or I could peruse live feeds. The ability to personalize this and that feature in some way we didn't think of (and didn't allow) was always near the top of feature requests.

There are so many design factors to take into account when you are designing for tens of millions of users. How could I possibly know which "one size fits all" design is best?

That said, customization, personalization, options dialogs and the like frequently spike complexity and user confusion. This is a trade-off we are forced into time and time again.

BTW, the Taskbar wasn't designed originally to dock at the bottom of the screen. See Raymond Chen's explanation for details. And many people, including plenty at Microsoft, dock it on the sides or the top.

Chris McEvoy

It would be great is MS published their prioritised list of bugs so that we could see where their priorities actually lie.

Alex Barnett

Hi Chris (I know your name now - :-),

Loius Parks from Microsoft explains that the balloon message issue you mention here was logged as a bug with SP2 and was closed as not important enough. So somebody cares :-)

See: http://weblogs.asp.net/alexbarn/archive/2004/09/05/225891.aspx



I Agree. Never ,never allow users to personalise (for example) their homepages. Ahem.

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