I have a UI dilemma.
Say you have some toolbar buttons which are part of the UI in a product. These buttons have an obvious function – denoted by their icon and text. This function is applicable at all relevant times. The buttons work and do the right thing in most cases, but in some defined cases it is not technically possible to make them do what a user would expect them to do. The user can perform the operation they would expect the button to trigger – it just requires opening another window, and clicking an identical button in that window instead.
The buttons cannot be disabled, either permanently or just in the problematic cases. The buttons cannot be removed. Which of the following is worse, when you click the button in a problematic case?
- it just
silently does nothing
- it puts up a popup saying something like “to achieve what you want to do, click the same UI in another window”
Popups are really irritating, particularly “well, why didn’t you do that for me, then?” popups – but is UI which looks working but silently fails even more irritating?