Yesterday I promised all my non-existent blog readers a diatribe on the Lotus Notes interface. Here it is.
- Things move around. A key component of a good interface is that things stay in the same place. With Lotus Notes when you open a new item – an email, a To Do item, an address – it opens it to the right of the page. When you close something, everything else is shunted across to the left. So you have an ever-changing menu with latest opened to earliest, running from left to right on your screen. You eventually get the trick of remembering which item you last opened, or of scanning across to find it, but you shouldn’t have to.
- If you want to highlight a block of items you can’t click one, scroll down to the other, and click CTRL to highlight the block. Why not? This is standard Windows. Why abandon a perfectly good standard?
- The menu system has a menu called ‘Actions’. In it, there’s an option called ‘Tools’. Surely every menu is an action or a tool? Why not arbitrarily change them round and have Actions within Tools, that would make as much sense.
- You can’t flip between separate items with Alt-Tab or click them on the taskbar because they’re not classed as separate tasks. So I can’t just flip from, say, an email to a To Do item, I have to point and click at everything. I’m a keyboard guy, and I don’t have the choice to use the keyboard.
So, there you go. Lotus Notes is half-arsed. I’ve been using it for over a year now and I still dislike it. From my past experience of software development I have a strong suspicion that Notes wasn’t developed as part of the Windows environment, not just in its non-standard user interface but in the way it just feels overlaid on top of it rather than integrated into it. I’ll also wager that the developers consider consistency of user interface an afterthought – so long as the engine works the seats don’t matter. Well they do. People sit on them and touch them and if they’re not right then they won’t care about the motor behind it.
For the record, my image top right is from a similarly disaffected Lotus Notes user.
And an anagram of Lotus Notes is Loose Stunt. If only it were called Locus Note.