Raymond Chen posted this entry about not playing mind games with your users when it comes to presenting dialogs where they have to make a decision. Well, I just ran into the Windows Vista Copy File dialog which popped up when I attempted to drag a file into a zip folder which already contained a file of the same name:
This totally threw me off, while everything on the dialog is grammatically correct the logic is completely backwards from what I expected. Here’s why:
NOTE: For this screenshot I placed the mouse over the “Copy and Replace” option so it would appear highlighted since there was no other visual indication of what actually should be clicked.
- The title says “There is already a file with the same name in this location” but the first location mentioned is the source location not the destination. Why isn’t the title “The destination already contains a file with the same name.”?
- The directions say “Click the file you want to keep”, but the filenames are the same it’s the paths which are slightly different but that’s not what’s highlighted.
- The “Copy and Replace” option mentions the file that’s being copied not the one I’m about to replace. Why doesn’t it say the opposite and tell me loud and clear “Here is the file you are about to replace:”
- The “Don’t Copy” option doesn’t mention the file that won’t be copied but rather the file that won’t be replaced.
- I felt overwhelmed with too much file detail information like “Size” and “Date modified” for both files, which is the same btw, and could have been provided via a details/dropdown next to each filename.
- Why is there a “Cancel” button? How is it different than “Don’t Copy” given that there is no explanation about what it’s not going to do.
- The subtitle says “Click the file you want to keep”. What does that mean for the file I don’t click?
This dialog seems far more concerned about the Source file not the Destination which is about to be overwritten.
The only guess I can come up with as to how Microsoft ended up here would be something along the lines of The Windows Shutdown crapfest.
[Updated: March 15] Added one more case