X-Lite Softphone UI Rant

x-lite-config.pngThe folly of designing computer programs to look like real-world objects is well documented. However, having just come across X-Lite, a SIP Softphone, I feel a rant coming on.

However, I’m not going to focus on their main UI (image link), because the flaws in that are obvious for all to see. Instead, the image to the right is a screenshot of their configuration dialog, which is the first thing you are presented with when starting the app. In fact, this static PNG gives you a good idea of the user experience as well as the look, because their custom controls don’t react in any way to being moused over.

See that widget on the left (note: not the right, where everyone else puts it)? It’s not really a scroll bar. The vertical line is just decoration. Clicking it or those two little black arrows does nothing. The larger arrows don’t scroll the viewport, they move the selection, and the viewport only scrolls when the selection reaches the top or bottom. The SELECT button appears to do nothing at all.

The ? in the title bar, which usually indicates local or context-sensitive help, actually hijacks your web browser and brings up an X-Lite web page. Er, excuse me, I was using that browser window?

The little icon in the top left of the “title bar”, which produces a menu on normal windows, does absolutely nothing. Double-clicking it doesn’t close the window. The only window resize point is in the bottom right corner, although there are no visible clues to tell you this. Perhaps we should be grateful that they’ve provided one at all.

Trying to edit your settings is equally miserable. For boolean items, instead of checkboxes, it takes you to an entirely new screen where you have to select either Yes or No from a two item list, press Enter to move the tick, and then click Back. This turns a one-click operation into a four-click, two-screen one. There’s no way of cancelling a settings change once you’ve made it; if you click BACK, your settings are saved anyway. Even closing the window using the X saves the settings.

But the most amusing thing is that their website puts in the feature list:

Intuitive user interface & Menu. Easy to navigate and configure.

2 thoughts on “X-Lite Softphone UI Rant

  1. No kidding, I actually use a softphone (provided by Vonage) made by the same company. The UI sucks. They should remember that they’re writing software for a computer, not a phone.