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The “Random User Interface”

by Craig Roth  |  March 11, 2019  |  2 Comments

This morning I logged into one of the productivity tools I use regularly and found that many of the controls have been moved around and a few options are now gone. This isn’t unusual anymore. As subscription models and cloud-delivered products have become more popular the rate of change has increased dramatically.

Usually these frequent UI updates are a benefit for users. These are valuable enhancements that are released without delay. But sometimes it feels like the changes benefit only a few niche users and are a cynical way to make users aware that their subscription is continually resulting in new “stuff”.

Sometimes it feels like vendors are using a “random user interface”. An RUI is created by a utility the engineers can use that randomly makes changes to the interface, like switching options on the left to the right, top to bottom. A built in thesaurus is used to randomly swap a few menu items with equivalent terms for no particular reason. The “color shaker” randomizes the color scheme, with an emphasis on going from light to dark themes or vice-versa.

Seriously, I think it’s important that when changes are made to the UI that confused users can get an explanation of why the change was made. It is disconcerting for users when their applications change and they have a right to know how this benefits them as a user.

And it’s important that UI changes are based on some user feedback or user testing to avoid making changes for changes’ sake. There is no “perfect” interface, so there is a tendency to jump from washed out to colored, light to dark, with no real improvement.

Anyways, time to change the theme for this blog. I haven’t been posting as much lately and just want to let my readers know I’m still here …

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Category: cloud  fun  user-interface  

Craig Roth
Research VP, Tech and Service Providers
7 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a Research Vice President focused on cloud office suites, collaboration tools, content management, and how they are being impacted by digital workplace and digital business trends...Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The “Random User Interface”

  1. Totally agree. In, I covered the same point. I think there’s a strong case for using AI to moderate UI changes so that SAAS users don’t churn out.

  2. Craig Roth says:

    Thanks – some good examples in your post.

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