Slideshare.net and Squirrel

Hi all, it’s time to start blogging again ;)

Today we have two confusing interfaces. These are the financing application for OSX called “Squirrel” (http://www.squirrelapp.com/) and a website for sharing slides (www.slideshare.net). Both are nice applications! But I’ve been confused by their use of very simple symbols. Maybe you won’t be confused, but remember that you’re in the mind-set of things being different than they seem ;)

First, slideshare:

Confusing zoom buttons

Which button is for zooming in? :) I’ve blocked the text, so think first about it before seeing if you guessed correctly

I got confused multiple times. Especially if you don’t think about wanting to search through slides. All the items on this page are related to the current slide, not for searching a specific text… (Update: they’ve changed it now, and ditched both zooming and searching)

Next, Squirrel:

Squirrel is a nice application with which you can manage your financials. It can import from your bank, but sometimes you have to add a transaction by hand. In the image below, I wanted to schedule a monthly transaction. But money can go both ways of course: it’s either added to my account, or subtracted. So which button do I check if the money comes to me?? Did I check the right button, or did I check the outgoing-money button?

Confusing Squirrel buttons

Again, I was really confused! I actually made a mistake with this that took me over an hour to figure out! :D Actually, the rest of the program is using color coding to avoid such mistakes. You’ll find the solution to the earlier question by looking at a different part of the interface.

Solutions

Symbols are always difficult. Include a text-label always, or use conventions. Even that doesn’t guarantee usability: slideshare was doing both! In that case, I would suggest removing the search-button and adding a search-field (similar to how the top-right of your browser looks, most likely). In the case of Squirrel there definitely is color coding needed! But even better would be to just use the “+” or “-“ symbol. This is just confusing :)

Ps: Mac-users, I can really recommend Skitch to you! It’s great for making screenshots!