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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
One left her sweater sitting on the train / and the other lost three fingers at the Cannery
— Neko Case, Margaret vs. Pauline
May 20, 2009
Why I Miss My One Button Mouse

Apple shipped a single button mouse for years. I loved that mouse, and it’s replacement with the so called Mighty Mouse has been hard for me.

There’s a simple reason one button mice are nice: they force interaction designers to truly think about menu structures. Microsoft’s original two button mouse has blossomed into a mouse of many buttons, but a minimum of three. The right mouse button is, in the world of Windows, is responsible for contextual menus. The idea is sound: right click on an item and get a list of options specific to that item. The reality is different. Not only do a surprising number of people not understand the difference between Click and Right Click, contextual menus have also made interface designers lazy, with functionality being shoved into invisble menus.

I thought Microsoft’s own Office Suite was amongst the worst offenders…until I had to use a Blackberry Enterprise Server.

The Blackberry server administers all of your Blackberry users. The screen shot below shows the list of users, and in it I’ve right clicked on a user, and was presented with the, frankly, shocking list of options seen below that.

User Administration on the Blackberry Enterprise Server Contextual Menu for User Administration By my count there are 35 different options on that menu, not all of which are even clearly linked to a single user. With no hierarchy (aside from the occasional line break) and nothing to guide the eye, the menu is virtually useless. The use of technical terms in the menu (good examples include Peer-to-Peer Key and Configuration Check Status) makes it hoplessly confusing if you’re not intimately familiar with the functions. Items aren’t seemingly grouped by function, with Statistics Exporting sharing space with Purge Pending Data Packets.

As an example of how not to design a menu, you couldn’t dream of a better one. As an example of why hiding things behind a Right Click is a bad idea, I’ve never seen better either.

I hate my right mouse button, but I seem to be stuck with it…for now.

Posted by skooter at 1:59 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
This entry is tagged: Blackberry, Interaction Design, RIM, Usability

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