Eudora welts

I use Eudora for email. It has some good features, but it also irritates me. Eudora often ignores Windows conventions and does its own thing.

Like many power users, I close programs by right-clicking on the program icon on the task bar and clicking Close on that right click menu. Eudora, unlike every other program I've ever used, puts Check Mail last, rather than Close. On top of that, when I do hit close, Eudora asks me if I'm sure I want to stop checking mail. Yes!

I can hear the Eudora people saying, But... but... we have a divider between the Check Mail and Close button. Doesn't matter. I close using right click when I want to keep using the current program. This "window trimming" is an automatic behavior: my focus is on the other program.

In his great book The Humane Interface, Jef Raskin calls the part of the mind that deals with this kind of thing the "cognitive unconscious." Cognitively unconscious behaviors are habits: fast and automatic, but not flexible. Interfering with these behaviors is the single fastest way to piss a user off.

It also helps explain why many web designs fail: the designer, having consciously considered every part of the page, forgets the user will likely be scanning. Putting anything on the page that looks like an ad will get it ignored, for instance.

Getting back to Eudora, another annoyance: every now and then, it doesn't feel like letting you drag and drop messages from your Inbox to a folder. And then, just as randomly, it starts working again.

And finally, a micro-annoyance: I have a mouse with a scroll wheel. Overall, I love it, but sometimes I still use the keyboard. Internet Explorer (or maybe the keyboard ?) sometimes will not scroll when I hit the down arrow. You want talk about an automatic behavior? I've been using computers since I was 10 (and I'm turning 30 this weekend.)

For a good if not incredibly recent collection of user interfaces mistakes, many of them funny, check out the Interface Hall of Shame.

(Update: 04/18/2003: I haven't been able to reach this web site, I'm removing the link. It's too bad, I really liked it.)

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Thursday, July 11, 2002 (Link)


Posted by Jack Tuesday, July 16, 2002 at 09:51 AM

You assume they give a damn about users.

For example, how hard would it be for them to add a line of javascript to to auto-place your cursor into the login box? You know, so that you don't have to grab your mouse to click into the text box so you can begin typing. The alternative is to hit 'TAB' seven times to reach the text box. Ridiculous.

You'll see this simplicity in action at Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and of course Google.

I was ready to leave Yahoo after their user privacy brouhaha, but then discovered how many web mail services are so utterly cluess about usability issues. I notified about this issue, and they of course took no action.

For mail clients, consider Pegasus Mail for Windows. It's freeware and is as powerful (if not more powerful) than Eudora and Outlook. It's not as pretty, but I've used it for 5 years and never wanted more.