Wednesday, 8 May 2013


We've gone over to using Google products at work.  For the most part, I like Google Mail.  It has its quirks, but the selling point for me is that, being browser based, mail items have URLs, so I can just paste the relevant URL into my to-do list or Evernote daybook, rather than clutter up my inbox with emails I'm waiting to action or need for meetings.

However, Gmail has a user interface feature I just keep getting wrong.  I consistently click the "Compose" button to move to my contacts, instead of clicking the "Mail" menu, and selecting from there.

I keep clicking "Compose", instead of selecting "Contacts".  Why?

I don't know why I keep doing this (maybe because the first two letters are the same?), but I do.  All the time.  I don't blame myself: I have been well-enough educated in user interface design to believe that if the user consistently makes a mistake like this, the UI is to blame.

This particular mistake is not that serious: I just have to keep binning unwanted empty emails (and muttering imprecations at the interface).  But there's another mistake I keep making, this time with the Chrome browser: I often hit "close tab" instead of "back" when I finish reading a linked page.  And then I've lost that tab's history, in particular, the page I was trying to return to when I closed the tab.

But then the other day, I discovered that all is not lost!  Hit Ctrl-Shift-T, and the tab is automagically resurrected.  Hit it again, and the previously closed tab reappears. And so on. Yes!  A key combination to undo a user interface infelicity.

So why isn't this option in the menu?

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