User Experience: Find the Send Button

I typically use Gmail; I do have a Hotmail account and needed to use that for something the other day. I typed up my new message, and had to hunt for the Send button. It took about 5-10 seconds.

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I found the obscurity of the Send button annoying. “There’s got to be a better way to do that,” thought I. Pull up Gmail – no problem finding it. A much smarter UX design. A breath of fresh air, even.

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Microsoft seems to really struggle with getting good UX, and it kills me. It’s like being a Minnesota Vikings fan – I really want them to do well, but even when they’ve got something good going, and put together a really awesome thing, they always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My wife doesn’t use a Windows Phone because of some very specific UX decisions Microsoft made poorly (see “aside” below). I suspect the reason Microsoft can’t get UX right has to do with this image being a little too true: http://www.bonkersworld.net/organizational-charts/

A culture of militant fragmentation manifests itself in their products; their UI’s come out fragmented rather than cohesive. It’s hard to sort out political power plays from earnest pursuit of excellence, so stuff that really should get done gets blocked. And it’s been going on for a loooong time (eg, how far buried ClearType was in Windows XP).

I know there are folks within Microsoft trying to change this. Here’s wishing for the best to them and to the Vikings.

Aside: the Windows Phone UX disaster was that to save a phone number on a new contact, you had to first click “Ok” for the phone number, then click “Save” on the contact. The second step shouldn’t have ever been there. Steve Jobs would have found it before the phone ever released, fired the person who put it in there, and it never would have seen the light of day. Thankfully Microsoft fixed this UX travesty in Mango, but they created an Apple fan in my wife – she returned her Windows Phone and loves her iPhone now.

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  • I was staring at your screenshot of the hotmail window looking for the send button for a good minute. O_o

  • Melissa Schiete

    It took me 12 seconds to find the “send” button.

    • Jason Pettys

      Hi Mel, thanks for checking out my blog! It was fascinating to me that it took you 12 seconds. Did that seem long to you? I suppose in the grand scheme of things 12 seconds isn’t much, and yet considering how much we use computers, and how many dozens or hundreds of little tasks like this we do in a typical day, the “usability tax” starts to add up. I think about it a lot because I design web applications like this one every day, and would like to make them more delightful to use, so observations like this are helpful. Thanks!