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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Anti-Pattern: Needless Fanfare (Turbo Tax)

I mostly love Turbo Tax (except when it tells me I owe a tax payment :-). But here is one that I found to be very annoying and a good example of an anti-pattern Theresa & I write about in our book... Needless Fanfare.

While doing my taxes back in April I was constantly going back and re-entering information that would hopefully bring my tax payment down (numbers below are not my actual tax payment :-)

Here is the real time version.

When turbo tax recalculates your tax burden it plays the Biggest Loser TV show's game of running the values up & down in a random fashion. The change in the videos below is from $10,533 down to $9,177. However at one point it goes all the way up to $98,000! Now we all know that "inside the computer" calculations are not done this way. Someone thought this would be cool way to call attention to the change happening.

But let me tell you this is a horrible experience. It gave me a heart attack as it ran up & down playing with "my money" till it finally said "ok, ok it went down". But because it does this nonsense it makes it hard to see what change actually happened (a variation on change blindness).

Now watch it in slow motion to see what it is doing.

There are other ways to signal a change. The most common is to spotlight the change for a brief moment usually using a fade anything technique (see these examples.)

Torturing me is not a good user experience. This is as fake as the Biggest Loser scale.

Anti-Pattern: Geek Speak (Facebook)

Need I say more?

facebook-database-error (by Designing Web Interfaces)