A decent example of overcomplicated interface
Meet KX-TS580EX, a landline phone I’ve recently had to set up for a friend of mine. I’ll refrain from talking about the design, which, to me is not appealing, and go directly to the point instead. Functionality – or better, lack thereof.
Open up the picture, and you’ll notice the display says to set the clock. Now, have a closer look and tell me what action you’d perform to do that, assuming you’ve got no access to the device manual.
I’d look for a menu button, and, failing that, a clock button. To be precise, I’d also look for icons resembling such two functions. Nope, there’s nothing like that. So, the following step would be to decipher all the icons, and see which ones might be related. Here’s what you’ve got (top to bottom, left to right): a key, a 90-deg bent arrow on top of a straight line, “R”, something in between “a steering wheel” and the Mazda logo, the MasterCard logo, a loudspeaker, an arrow pointing to the center of a square, an arrow exiting from the center of a square, the mute sign (although I must admit I know it only because I saw it somewhere else), OK, and a couple of other icons we already are acquainted with.
Now, it turns out the menu is activated by pressing the button with the arrow pointing to the center of a square, probably indicating some kind of “entering”. Intuitive? Not at all. Not for me, and I bet, not for many other people. And I bet, those many other people get angry at the phone itself for that.
But we could go even further. Say, why do some buttons have icons on and above them? How do you access one or the other functions? Depending on the context? Or holding the button for a few second? What’s the steering wheel icon about? And what’s the MasterCard-like one instead? Why choosing an icon which is quite difficult to read to set up call deviation (it’s the second one from the top)? Why going for the obscure “mute” icon? Isn’t there anything more intuitive?
What’s the bottom line here? Two things to take away. First, keep it simple, stupid. Choose complex over complicated. Less is more. Second, as a tester, you’re responsible with the product as a whole. If you think it can be done better, if you believe some annoyances can be polished away, speak up and make sure to inform who needs to be notified. Just report it and motivate it. Worst case scenario it will be just a Wontfix.