User Interface Design Guide
from Hell

v 1.2
25th October 2001



User Interface Design is an interesting field of work. It requires experience, patience and a fundamental understanding of someone else's working environment. All of these are properties which come naturally only to a selected few of us. Sure there are books out there which try to teach you all these skills, but has anyone ever developed a special ability just by reading a book?

When it comes to the quality of GUI's, you'll notice that many are easy to use and yet very advanced. However, even more Interfaces are mediocre both in design and usability. The real challenge though is to make a really bad GUI, one that makes users scream in agony and wrapping the mouse cord around their own neck - after you tied the other end securely to a large and potentially fast moving Object, that is. The perfect GUI from Hell is more than just a combination of bad habits and the results of studies on rotten fruit. It's a piece of art. Working for the right company is essential here. If you work for Microsoft, that's perfect! Everyone simply *has* to put up with your nonsense, and you get paid good money for harming others. This is similar to being in the Foreign Legion, but without having to spend weeks in the jungle, wading through waist-deep dung.

The ultimate goal here is to inflict as much pain as possible, causing the end user to scream in agony. Real Hell-UI's manage to make the user bite off a finger while at the same time projecting the cause of the "error" onto himself. These passionate events are called a "golden moment". You probably won't be around when it happens (and if you do you better already have another job at hand), but the sheer knowledge of such things happening because you made them can be a rewarding thing. After all, somehow they have to make up for all the taxes you pay, don't they?


Here are some basic rules on UI Design which, upon implementation, will brighten your life by darkening other's:




The Future

Things are looking good - not for the end user, mind you. Eventually, every computer will come with a smell interface, and force feedback wont be limited to knocking the user's hand anymore. The Author envisions a no-so-distant future where you can harass people with stinking error messages, and beating them unconscious remotely. I doubt it'll ever be possible to genetically modify or brainwash users just by using the right combination of color, but one can still hope.


A small update: The Interface Hall Of Shame is a VERY good resource if you're looking for practical examples. Kudos!
Suggestions? Drop them here -> toumal@hox.dhs.org