User interface hall of shame

Sometimes you encounter a software user interface that is so lame, you just can’t let it go. This is a very good example of such a case – MS-Project and the delete button.

Here is me adding a task using MS-Project’s GANTT view. notice how easy it:
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MS-Project delete

Then, I want to delete the task – completely. So I select the task and hit the “Del” button. Notice that only the text was deleted, but the rest of the data stays. Instead of deleting everything, MS-Project pops up a ‘delete “smart menu”‘ in the “information column”, which carries the helpful title “Click here to delete the entire task”.

So I click “here”, and I get a menu. but not just any menu – a “radio button menu” (another great invention from Microsoft Office team), which has two options:

  • Only clear the content of the task cell
  • Delete the entire task

And the “only clear…” entry “selected”. I then need to activate the “Delete…” entry, which causes the entire task, with the delete menu and everything to disappear.

Anyone notice a problem here ?

I mean – lets assume for a minute that people actually want sometimes to only clear the text and not delete the item , thus making some kind of interface like that justifiable (this is a bit far fetched, but the MS-Project interface has so many other bad things going for it, that I can believe that sometimes people are forced to revert to this behavior to word around some other interface cludge). But I got a “delete” icon, and the tool tip said “click here to delete the task” – I would assume that its going to delete the task when I click it. But no – it needed to open another useless menu, this one with only two entries – one of which is useless because it depicts and action I already done, and clicking it would do absolutely nothing.

Further more, the concept of using radio buttons to describe a delete action, more so – embedded in a menu, is so ludicrous it boggles the mind ! I would expect such a radio button in the preferences page:

| When deleting a task [x] Only clear the task cell [ ] delete the entire task |

That would make sense – but popping something like that after I already pressed “delete” and only got the cell cleared, allowing me to “post mortem” change the behavior – makes no sense for a radio button. I would have let it go if there was some use for the radio button interface – maybe after I changed the behavior once, it learned something and kept the setting at “delete the entire task” when pressing “delete”, but no – its going to pop up the same stupid menu next time I’ll try to delete a task.

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