I installed Vista on my home-built PC about three weeks ago to stream HD video to my Xbox 360 and to generally kick the tires a bit. There’s a lot to be said about the usability of Vista (both good and bad), and I’ll detail that over time. This post is to address something that annoyed me during the installation process.
After gathering information about my machine and (ostensibly) deciding which components to load, Vista began churning away at copying files from the install disk to my hard drive. It warned me that it may take a while, which was nice, and it threw up a progress bar on the screen for me to zone out on while it did its thing. It looked like this:
The problem is that this caused me to think, “Okay. Almost done loading the files and… Ah, crap. Okay, this time it’s almost done… Crap!” All of our experiences viewing web pages, downloading files, or installing applications have coded our minds to read this as, “When the bar fills up, I’m done.” What they should have used was a throbber, which might look like this:
Our experience tells us that this means, “I’m doing stuff, so hold tight and I’ll let you know when I’m done.” It’s important to think of how media has been used before and if it has crept into the visual vocabulary with a meaning that runs counter to our intended usage.
It should surprise me that a company the size of Microsoft overlooked something so obvious, but it doesn’t.