Bad usability…

Yesterday, part of a problem I was solving required me to add a “count” property onto a structure I was building.  Its basically a tree structure, so each level can have multiple items under it.  Kinda like a family tree… yeah, that’s a good example, so I’ll stick with it. 🙂

My problem was this… If I said GreatGrandpa.Count, what would you expect as a result?  Should it just count his children, or should it count all of his descendants?  It might be small, but its important when you’re designing things that other real people have to use… 

I saw a great example of this going wrong (in a non programming context) this morning on Ryan Farley‘s blog about trying to find a map that showed where a local restaurant was.  Here’s what he got:

 

How’s that for a useful result?   “You know what, I can’t find exactly where it is, but its somewhere in america.”  Gee, thanks! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Bad usability…

  1. 🙂 – It all depends on how long it will take to calculate the child items in each branch, and also how many levels there are. I like the idea of the top most layer showing the total amount and then work your way down, but it would not be very standard then, each number representing a different amount of layers, hmm… If you could perhaps either put both, or have the ability to set how you would like to view the tree. I guess it would also determine on which number you would need, what is more usefull in that situation. LOL… I started writing this thinking that I would choose one, but now I’m undecided.

  2. Ha ha, but what if GreatGrandpa was a queer. Then he would have no descendants. Therefore it would return zero.

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