27 Dec 2008

The minute details

When it comes to user interfaces, it’s surprising how sometimes the omission of a minute detail can cause great annoyance and discomfort to the users. I encounter one such experience when using soccernet.com. For most part, Soccernet is a great site, and it’s really user friendly and well navigatable.

One thing that irks me though is these little content teasers that appear on the landing page:

Soccernet.com content flash screenshot

There are typically four to five teasers which rotate periodically (notice the little clock on the top right hand corner). I find it quite irritating that these teasers sometimes change just as I am about to click on one of the links, as a result of which, some other page would open up.

The problem here is not the timer as obviously, to rotate the content you would need it. Perhaps it could have a slightly longer timeout. But I think the real issue is that the timer should be frozen, atleast for a short period, when the user hovers over the link. Simply because, it might indicate that the user’s focus is on the content teaser (yes, not always true, but it’s a reasonable assumption) and he might click on the link any moment.

Another side effect of this quirk is that the the slider actually slides to the next teaser when the user has right clicked on the link to try and open it in a new window (never mind the fact that the “Open in new window” does not work in the first place).

Now, I am not trying to be cynical here by bringing up a small issue, in context of the overall great design and usability of the site. This is just a reminder to myself and everyone in the UI field that the money is in the smallest of details, and how even the smallest of unexpected behavior can irk users significantly.

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