Friday, August 1, 2008

Worst UI Ever: Too much information

Have you ever heard someone say that more information than you need couldn't hurt? In some cases that is true. However, most of the time, when it comes to communicating effectively too much information can definitely "hurt" by overwhelming the reader and ultimately confusing them. This example comes from the the US Army website and is intended to show how many pushups one must do in order to pass basic combat training. Here is the screenshot...

As you can see this grid has quite a few numbers in it... 750 cells of data. There are only 20 numbers that are actually useful to support the goal of: I want to know how many pushups I have to do to pass. The rest of the numbers are all either failing amounts or more than you need. Granted, there may be a secondary goal such as I want to know what my grade would be if I did 100 pushups. However, a grid of 750 numbers is not the best way to do that either.

Something like this would more effectively meet the goals of the user trying to see how many pushups he needs to do to pass each test.


If you find yourself saying "I'm not sure what data the user needs so lets show all of it" then you probably haven't thought enough about who your users are and why they are using your site or application. You must resist dumping the data on screen like an export from your database. It will only overwhelm the reader.

It is no different than if you ask someone on the street the time and he proceeds to list off the time in every possible timezone. That is useful data to someone but not me and not right now.

1 comment:

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