Usability memo to application development types

To all developers, everywhere:

Unless the message you’re displaying is “you’re in incredible danger” there is no excuse, ever, to steal focus from my current application. I don’t care if you’re updating virus definitions, or if you want to check for software updates. It’s less important than me actually working. If I’m writing full-tilt and something pops up, I:
– almost certainly key input to that dialogue that does something unintentionally
– lose ~10-15 words of whatever I was writing
– lose my concentration
which leads to
– losing my shit

I, no joke, uninstall programs that can’t be quiet. If your objective was to be noticed, you succeeded, and now I don’t use your app at all. Congratulations.

Windows should – easily – allow me to disable that operation entirely. There’s no reason a user shouldn’t be able to control whether they’re interrupted by messages like that.

2 thoughts on “Usability memo to application development types

  1. Scraps

    Grrrrr! And I’m on dialup, so in my case I add the likelihood that my typing will start a download process that will consume bandwidth I am probably using for research, etc.

  2. Evan

    Windows should absolutely allow you to disable that operation, preventing it from ever occurring. I use proprietary database software at work that steals focus whenever it autosaves (the developers insist it doesn’t do that, but it does).

    Windows should, generally speaking, allow you to disable pretty much anything. Sure, some people will screw it up, but I figure if I’ve dug around and clicked the “I am not an idiot” checkbox I should be allowed to fiddle with stuff. After all, I already have to crawl through Windows and change default settings when I get it anyway (Hide extensions for known file types – why would I want to do that? And why can’t I sort files by extension anymore?).

    Some days I really miss OS/2.

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