Tuesday, 5 September 2006
The Huh? dialog box
As much as I know that dialog boxes are, as has been pointed out, rarely more than an annoyance to users, it's always interesting to have the lesson brought home yet again by an actual, real user.
Over the weekend I was at a meeting of parents where many laptops were open and we were all looking at a spreadsheet. One parent opened the spreadsheet in Excel and was confronted by that big dialog boxes that warns you about macros.
It was classic. She just stopped and said "What am I supposed to do!? What does this mean!?" She did not read one single word of the dialog box text. Being me and all, I said "What does it say?" and more-or-less made her read the text, mostly on principle. Not that it probably helped much, because even when she'd read that "macros can be harmful" or whatever it says, she asked me "But it's ok to open this spreadsheet"? Yes, it was. Who knows what she would have done if she'd been on her own. I'm not sure she knows what a macro actually is.
I've heard (have not yet experienced) that Vista pops up a lot more "Is this ok?" security warnings than, say, XP. I sure hope it's not the experience we saw with this spreadsheet, coz in her case, she'd probably never get anything installed.