Archive for April, 2007

Okay. It’s OK not Ok, okay?

As Microsoft mentions in their User Experience Guidelines, the caption text on an OK button should be written as OK rather than Ok.

Here is an example violation from the the database management software Aqua Data Studio:


AquaSoft’s site is full of screenshots that show off the mixed case Ok button.

Historically OK may be an acronym, but when putting it on a dialog button in Windows it’s all caps. None of these variants are correct:


 There’s only one OK button:



p.s. Aqua Data Studio is a much nicer tool for managing a DB2 database than trying to suffer through IBM’s Control Center, which have enough UI issues to warrant their own entire blog.  In fact, some companies have rules in place forbidding the use of DB2 GUI tools, and everything must be done from a command line.


Just do it

A good user interface does what the users asks. The user shouldn’t have to fight the computer at every step. They want the computer to do something, so just do it.

In this example, we are awarding a contract to a supplier. After selecting a supplier, the user pushed the toolbar button:


 Rather than awarding the item, the user is presented with a rather unfriendly error message:

Not very helpful

This isn’t very helpful. The user asked to award a contract to this supplier. She did not ask if it was already awarded to someone else. She isn’t even given a hint by the software as how to proceed. At least we could be helpful and tell her who the other supplier is:


But we’re not really accomplishing what the user asked. If there is no way for her to award the item, then she should not have been able to reach this “error” condition in the first place:


Disabling the toolbar button makes it clear that what she wants is just not possible. Rather than being led to believe they can award an item, and then having the rug pulled out from under them – it’s understood from the beginning that they can’t. But there’s still a better way.

If the user is allowed (i.e. there is a process, and they have permission) to unaward contracts from one supplier, and give them to another, then do so. The user wants it done, so just do it:


This way everyone’s happy.

  • the computer does what the users asks
  • the computer is satisfied that it has given the user fair warning; that the user might be making a mistake
  • the computer is forced to do the grunt work, which computers are good at

Unsubscribing from MyEclipse Newletter

i recently received my semi-annual spam e-mail from the My Eclipse people. i don’t ever remember signing up for a newletter, but they supplied a helpful unsubscribe here link. i followed it, and this is what i get:

 Unsubscribe Me Option

In order to unsubscribe, i must provide my username and e-mail address. Why must i provide these things? You already know my e-mail and my username, you’re the ones who sent me the e-mail!

In my particular case, i don’t know my username. i don’t even know my “MyEclipse” e-mail address. i could recover my username through their “Lost your username?” feature, but why not just save me step?

If i click a link in an e-mail saying unsubscribe here, i should be presented with a page such as:


And i’ll click “Unsubscribe” and that will be the end of it.


  • typo in the first sentence
  • don’t have UNSUBSCRIBE in all caps
  • right-align the buttons
  • the word e-mail is properly hyphenated in two of three instances

 p.s. i’m still not unsubscribed, i didn’t want to bother with it anymore.

April 2007
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