Windows 8 UI “disappointing”, says usability expert

By on

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen has described the Windows 8 user interface “disappointing” for both novices and power users to Windows; claiming that Microsoft’s dual approach for the OS – making it work for both tablets and PCs – is making things difficult to find needed features on the PC.

Describing the entire thing as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” duality; he claims that the interface’s usability problems include inconsistency of the user experience, lack of multiple windows and the simple flat style reduces “discoverability”.

His study does point out some frustration – like Live Tiles being “too active” and that the charms work very poorly (for new users) since they are hidden and aren’t easily accessible. And I should stress that he hasn’t just criticised Windows 8 for the heck of it, he has done the same for other products like the iPad and the Kindle Fire.

However, Nielsen’s usability guidelines can go both ways – his approach for mobile websites has been somewhat controversial with some web developers. He has called for two different websites – one for the desktop, another for mobile – and those websites to be unique. This advice ignores the latest trends to adapt to the different screen sizes – such as responsive web design, and even some designing for mobile first and then scale up.

Given that Windows 8 does introduce a brand new user interface, then of course there will be some problems. It is a huge learning curve – but then again, the Ribbon user interface for Office had been a huge learning curve for many and despite user complaints early on, people have gotten used to the interface.

Windows 8 blurs the line of tablet and desktop – whether was that a good or bad thing is something we cannot answer until a few years from now.

Join the Conversation

  • MarrkDaviid

    I have Windows 8 on both my laptop and desktop, and have given all of the good apps a try. I am currently only using traditional desktop apps.

    Metro UI might look pretty, though it hasn’t done anything to increase productivity, apart from being able to sync more information to your Windows Live account.

    Microsoft should have left Metro UI to tablets and mobiles only, and improved upon Windows 7. They could have just added the ability to login to Windows using your Windows Live account, and synced your ‘My Documents’, “My Pictures’ folders etc to the cloud.

    Tablet apps on a computer will never be a good idea, just like traditional desktop apps on a tablet will never be a good idea (yes, I am looking at you, Surface Pro users).

    I will probably continue to use Windows 8 for now, despite it having not made my life any easier. Will have to wait and see what the uptake is like on both a consumer and business level. Can’t see many business upgrading at this point in time.