Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Ultimate in UI - User Idiocy

User Interfaces should be more than friendly and intuitive - UIs should also remove the many opportunities users have to make fools of themselves.

New to Facebook, and wanting to avoid information overload, I have been regularly skipping the Invite-all-the-people-you-know-from-every-email-account-you've-ever-owned call-to- action.

But late in the day at the end of a long week, I finally decided to take advantage of "Invite your Gmail Friends Who have already jumped on the FB train."

I entered my super stealthy gmail password after my already populated gmail address and pushed the Go/Next/Getonwithit button and was rewarded with a large selection of people who meet the following criteria:

1. Already have a Facebook Account
2. Appear somewhere in my gmail account (inbox, outbox, under deep cc cover, etc.)

Perusing cautiously and carefully, I selected a large handful of people I know who might be feeling magnanimous enough to accept my virtual friendship offering. Pleased with myself, I clicked the same Go/Next/Hurry-up-and-finish button.

The next screen was purely irritating.

An apparent, "Are you sure?" screen asked me to validate that indeed I wanted to invite the exact collection of persons I had JUST selected. I clicked the blue Go/Forward/Get-on-with-it button at precisely the same moment I noticed the verbiage atop the enormous list of names explained this particular list a little differently:

Here are a bunch (and we mean ALLOT) of random people that are in your gmail account and don't necessarily have a Facebook account. You may not know them all because they could have been part of massive emails, mailers, groups, craigslist postings, cc's, etc. but, with the click of the seemingly innocuous button below, you will invite every last one of them to be your friend.

I suppose there were multiple explitives I unleashed but really all I remember is frantically hitting the CANCEL/ABORT/REDO button again and again.

The damage was, as they say, already done.

Let's consider the impact of my little User Idiocy moment.
I believe, on the conservative side, I invited well over 500 people to my Facebook account.

The 12 Yahoo Groups and all group members who have ever posted to one of those groups received an invite. Every individual who has asked about an item I'm trying to unload on Craigslist received an invite. The collective distribution for each of the mass family emails I am privvy to received an invite. The entire board of my children's PTA, previous clients from my days of freelancing, fellow freecyclers, help desk personnel, our family doctor, chiropractor, dentist...

My Top 3 favorite repsonses:

"Do I know you?"

"I'm not interested, sorry"

"My mom got an invite from you. Who are you?"

Obviously User Idiocy at it's finest. The best part? Facebook is kind enough to repeat this offer to that unsuspecting population monthly. The gift that keeps on giving.