I Need a Kill Switch.

I am a huge proponent of usability standards when it comes to software. I’m not advocating that everything be the exact same, but there are certain basic functions that should be included in every modern software package available today. Here at work, we have a software updater called BEAM. It is a home-grown software package that violates one of the most basic usability functions every software designer should follow. There is no “Not Now” button. What I mean by this is, there isn’t a button that allows you to cancel the updates, and there isn’t a function that allows me to schedule my update for a more convenient time.

Some of you are probably saying “so what? Does it really take up that much of your time?, and it is nice that your IT department checks to see if your computer needs updating or not.” Well folks here it is, I work with video and multimedia applications that require me to leave my computer on for days at a time. When I have an unfortunate incident where I am forced to restart (thank you After Effects for crashing my system), the last thing I want to do is wait for an update so I can get back to work. Especially if I am on a deadline.

I just don’t get it. I know that there is probably some thinking that says if we give them a “Not Now” button, no one will ever update their computer systems. Or maybe it’s a “This way we can make sure all computers have identical software loads which will minimize tech support issues”, kind of thing. I don’t know. What I do know is this. Every modern piece of software designed in the last 10 years that does automatic update checks has a “Not Now” button. That is good usability design. That is good software design.

Oh, look my computer just restarted. I’m going to wrap this up so I can get back to work.

Written on WordPress for iPhone.