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Friday, 13 January 2012

Feeling listless

So, I like lists, and I am bothered by all the software, web design, and social media trying to take them away from me. What are I talking about? Well, using Facebook, Windows/Mac OS, Gmail, and Netflix as examples, I will make clear the departure from using something as simple as a list and my frustration with that.

The first time I noticed this was on Gmail. I probably should have noticed it sooner on a Mac, but I rarely use them. Not too long ago, Gmail changed its menu options and while it may have helped other people out, it simply bothered me. The settings had moved, the options had moved, and the real-estate, the useful part of the screen, changed and decreased. But, it's free and still works well, so I moved on.

I then noticed it on some Apple computers and devices. I hadn't really noticed before because I had only used those devices for very short periods of time, but when I started looking around, I found that the list was, again, a thing of the past. I was looking around one day on my iPod Touch, and everything was a big button, when all I wanted was a simple list I could look at on one screen, not several. I thought, oh well this is just to facilitate the touch-ability. But, while my experience with Apple computers is still limited, the propensity to use big buttons over organized, alphabetical lists, seems common.

I was on Facebook, looking at some friends and their photos. I went to one friend's wall, only to find they had the Timeline feature set up. I went to another, and another, each time finding their profile page as a majestic nod to their lives. Now, I know now where to find their photos, and albeit, it really isn't difficult to find, but I liked the older format where their photos were in the link 3 options below their picture. It's organized, it's accessible, and it doesn't try to win me over artistically.

Netflix is just as bad, although I think it never was any other way and thus will be less apologetic with it. But, for anyone who has used it, I wonder, wouldn't you sometimes just rather an alphabetical list over the big images for every show and movie?

Now, I know that Facebook and Gmail are free and that I shouldn't complain about them, at least not as much. I know that all of them are popular with many people, and that for the most part, these services work very well, even with my minor complaint. But, seriously, it bothers me to have to get past the flashy design and down to the details for which I am searching.

Maybe it's because I'm an engineer, maybe it's because I have an organized, meticulous mind, whatever the reason, I love having a list of the things I need. When I go to a website, I want my options clearly laid out in front of me, not with big distracting buttons, but with an organized list. At least if you're going to give me buttons, give me the list off to the side.

Oh well, no big deal, I'll resist the pattern, and it'll become standard soon enough anyway. Thanks for reading, and do tell me your opinion. Has it ever bothered you not just having a simple list of options on a website or piece of software?

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