What is the worst user interface you've ever had to use? One that made you want to somehow locate the creators over the internet, personally fly to their location, and then beat them severely with a large trout.

What made it so terrible? Was it too many screens, ill-marked buttons, or just really annoying dialog boxes showing up everywhere? Screenshots are a plus.

Related question:

Best UI Ever

Also related:

Worst UI you have ever used on the User Interface SE site.

558 accepted

Lotus Notes.


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Picture from the CodingHorror article "Lotus Notes: Survival of the Unfittest"


Myspace Layouts

Your average myspace layout is totally impossible to read, use and navigate.

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I rest my case!


This is my favorite:



A form in an access application I 'Have' to maintain...



Generally all driver/hardware UIs, especially software that comes with motherboards, but also seen with sound cards and input devices.

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I would say, my GrandMa's IE screen....:



FileMatrix (an old multi-column file manager)


The godawful "Select Folder" dialogue on Windows XP and all its ilk (I do not know if it is in Vista).

Prepare to browse the entire structure of your disk through a tree view inside a small, non-resizeable window. And no, you can't just copy paste the full path to the directory you want because there's no text box to do so in.

It would be merely annoying if it wasn't used in every Windows application and installer ever.



I find the MSDN (online) navigation slow and a tedious way of putting together about 100 books.


Would you find a book like this in a library? 9 different categories before you reach the chapter you're after. Obviously most people just use the search or site:msdn.microsoft.com on google


MSDN now has a low bandwidth version which is a lot nicer to use

Search Bookmarklet

It's a bit off topic but this is Google search bookmarklet for MSDN (make a new bookmark, copy this in as the url)

javascript:q = "" + (window.getSelection ? window.getSelection()
 : document.getSelection ? document.getSelection() :
 if (!q) q = prompt("You didn't select any text. Enter a search phrase:", "");
 if (q!=null) location="http://www.google.com/search?btnI=&q=site:msdn.microsoft.com%20" 
+ escape(q).replace(/ /g, "+");%20void%200

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I won't say what my companies app is called incase I get fired but it looks just like this.


Blender, the 3D software, has always maddened me; it's extraordinarily powerful, and a truly amazing piece of code, but the interface is made of tiny buttons with nonsensical icons, "tabs" nested several deep in places, and nothing -remotely- resembling a clear path from one part of your workflow to another. It's also usually hard to tell which of the many, many, many interface panels a given button belongs to; some of them even have their own menu bars. alt text


Gimp. Hands down. It's a pretty powerful editor, but its UI is pretty difficult. It may be pretty powerful once you learn it, but there are other image editors out there that are just as powerful and easier to learn (albeit cost money).


I have mixed feelings about this one, but I have to say Eclipse!

  • The first time I use it, I just couldn't do ANYTHING at all.

  • You really need the reference for this one.

  • My editing window become 5x5 text area all the time.

  • Is not intuitive at all.

The only way I managed to work productively with that is when I was part of a team where everyone else had several flying hours using it ( I was forced to use it ). I usually asked something like:

"How do I .... in eclipse"

And the answer always was:

"ohhhh very easy you just .... and then ... and then .... and finally ... quite poweful isn't ?

Without a mentor ( somebody who really loves the IDE ) I cannot get something done in eclipse.

For instance I didn't knew that Ctrl-M expands the current view ( so I can get my 5x5 editing area sane again ) That shorcut is just NOT discoverable at all, until someone from the SO community told me that my life with eclipse was miserable.

I know the screenshot belongs to swtswing project, but pretty much illustrates the point


I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Bugzilla yet. Classic example of a "powerful" interface -- and absolute power corrupts absolutely....

Screenshot of Bugzilla's search interface


Not the worst ever but just to be original: Windows media player

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Anybody still remembers that ugly head?


Windows windows that can't be resized and should be made resizable.

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Why this isn't made resizable is beyond me ...

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(the latter is mentioned in this Microsoft Connect request)


iTunes for Windows


How did Go Daddy not make this list.....

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I'll second the vote for Lotus Notes, specifically 6.0. I had to use it at a customer site for a month. I can't erase it from my memory. Here are a few reasons why it's so awful:

  • Pressing the Esc key on the main window exits the application.
  • The button to send a new email says "New Memo."
  • There are very, very few keyboard shortcuts. Ctrl-N does not open a new email (er, memo). It does nothing.
  • Right-clicking a message does nothing. No context menu at all.
  • Need to set an out of office message? That's cool, but it's only going to send at 2 AM!
  • In just about every other email client, sender's addresses are the person's name (John Smith) or email address (john@smith.com). In Notes, it's John Smith/Detroit Office/Company Name. And you can't get an Internet email address out of that.
  • Forget about HTML emails.
  • Typing in your password alternates some strange glyphs with several X's for each character
  • To select multiple emails, you have to place a checkmark next to each mail, but there's no column guide for that. Just empty space.
  • The error messages were clearly written by non-English speaking engineers.
  • Attaching a file requires navigating menus and dialog boxes, instead of just dragging the file to the message.
  • Everything opens in a new tab. EVERYTHING.
  • It's ugly. Just plain ugly. The welcome screen is a hodgepodge of several different user functions with no guidance on what any of them do.

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So, yeah. I hate Notes.


I've always thought the Microsoft Word Options dialog was an example of the shotgun approach to UI design. They just dumped everything into one place. Need to change your spelling dictionary? Options. Want to change the default behavior for Save? Options. Want to turn on macro security? Options. And so on.

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The SAPGUI is inflicted upon millions of office workers and thousands of developers every day.

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The Windows Environment Variable editor.

Textbox FAIL.

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From Coding Horror, wGetGUI:


EDIT: I didn't actually use this.



Havenworks image


While this is stricly speaking a UI, it's not something I use, but it ranks right up there along the worst of UI design with the pros.

Warning Put on protective goggles before opening the following link:



1-4a rename

1-4a rename


Progress bars that aren't accurate. I hate a progress bar that reaches 100% (or 99%) after a minute or 2 and then sits there for another 20 minutes before "completing".


Any web page with highlighted words that you mouse-over and a popup wants to redirect you. Most of the time the highlighted words have no relevance whatsoever to the story you are reading or are redirects to advertising.


Perhaps not as bad as FileMatrix, but a few years ago I was "fortunate" enough to try out a tool call Cybrid.

Cybrid was VB6 application that built 3d levels for a proprietary game engine.

Despite rarely using it, I still have Cybrid installed. Here's a screenshot of this 4-window app. This is the application in its default state when you launch it:

cybrid screenshot


Here is one from GNOME:


All of Gnomes configuration dialog have no "Apply" or "Cancel" settings. Most Gnome applications don't have multilevel undo, so if you change 3 settings, there is no way to restore them.

Also noted that pressing close, escape or the control box save the changes.


Today I've met the:

Flash settings manager!!

That's the oddest settings manager I have ever seen.

It is ultra counter intuitive.

It took me about 10 minutes to realize: "That was not a picture"... and other 5 to figure out what to change.

Right click -> advanced:

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Yes advanced please!

This strange page from adobe with a lot of text shows up. Usually I just quit at this point. With a strange feeling of What did I do wrong???

where to go from here

What did I do wrong?

Now, where to go from here?!!

Ok eventually and after reading and clicking all around, I came to this page ( well actually somebody drop me the directly to it )

And I did what I guess most users do when they get this far ( if they do ). I stare at the page wondering what to do next.

As I knew there was "something" there, I .. read .. :P

Oh THAT's not an image that's the actual setting manager. What is it doing in the Adobe site?

that's not an image

Oh that's not an image

Ok, changed something here.. now what? Should I save? mmmhh nope, just close the window? What? What?

I have to just close the window, the this was the strangest experience I have ever had.

It does against all the habituation's we have formed using computers.

Did you knew were the Flash players settings are?


Interface hall of shame has a rich collection for your delight.


Craigslist. Do you really need a link for every single city, state, and country on the right? If I click Chicago, why do I need to see all that still? This web site should be one of those games where the person who guesses how many links are on the page wins a free trip to Disneyland or something.

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At the risk of being stoned to death ..

Emacs and Vim!


Forms that clear all the inputs when there was a minor validation problem in one of them


Facebook is currently my top worst interface.

The toolbars, tabs and widgets are a mess and the various "dialogs" that require input are hard to distinguish from ads.


Take this!. alt text


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The login window for the Lotus Notes utilizes a security "feature" to defeat would-be onlookers from learning your password.

-- Interface Hall of Shame


Annoying being the keyword...

MS Office's Clippy


Sadly, this is from the Windows installer of one of my favourite OSS projects. Thank God they removed this in a later version.

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Unhelpful dialogue boxes:

Ok! Ok!


Disabling right-click on a web page. Especially when coupled with a javascript alert to tell you it's been disabled.


Microsoft Outlook - Options Dialogs

The options configuration in Outlook are a good runner-up, though they do not hold a candle to the paragon of user-abuse that is Lotus notes, of course.

It's a nesting doll of dialogs to a sometimes unbelievable depth.

Here's a basic example, it reads left to right, top to bottom (like a book). The only dialog you can interact with is the lower-most, right-most one since they're all modal. And of course you can't interact with the application itself since the very first dialog is modal.

Options dialog Russian nesting doll

I believe I've been as deep as 11 dialogs. But by that point I think I was changing my domain password. Yes, you can change you windows domain password from about 10 or 11 dialogs deep in Microsoft Outlook 2003.


Courtesy of The Onion News Network, here's Sony's "Stupid box thing":

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"Anyone mystified by the product can use the device's numerous extraneous features and scroll through the interactive help menu, a labyrinth-y maze of indecipherable topics of use to fucking no one."

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The UI in Visual Studio for remapping keys. The area showing commands available is not resizable, and is just high enough to show 3-4 of hundreds of commands available, rendering it impractical for scrolling through the list of commands, either to find the name Microsoft has given a command, so you can learn/remap the shortcut (is it Up? MoveUp? UpArrow?, no LineUp), or just to see if you can find some neat, useful shortcuts. The filtering mechanism is only minimally useful, so even if you know you're looking for an Edit command, you still have to scroll (and scroll, and scroll) through all those Edit.EmacsXXX and Edit.BriefYYY commands, even if you're not using those schemes. And until you've been through the list more than a few times, you don't know you're looking for an Edit command, and not a Format or Action command. There's no handy way to determine what keystrokes are not currently mapped, so if you're looking for a free keystroke you can assign to an unmapped command, it's try-this-now-that until you stumble across something that's both unused and vaguely mnemonic. It's a functionally complete UI that works well if you know exactly the name of the command and your current key mappings, and is difficult to use otherwise...which I think is probably the majority of cases.alt text


I once provided front-line support for an application that presented the user with a menu of options. It looked something like this:

[1] Do something

[2] Do something else

[3] Do another thing

[X] Exit

At this menu, my users were required to press "8".


Any SAP UI ruined my day. Large parts of it are transactional which means you'll run across some weird behaviour and will type everything 3 or 4 times.


I couldnt go thru all the posts (protecting my eyes), but Crystal Reports suck pretty bad!


I apologize if someone already mentioned this, but I hate when windows tries to do me a favor by selecting the space after the text I am trying to copy.


The Realtek sound control panel. Because you obviously need an equalizer setting to 'sewer pipe', 'underwater', or 'cave'.

  1. Automatically putting focus on the "user-name" field of a login form. I can't tell you how many times I entered part of my password in the "user-name" field just because I didn't want to wait for the page to finish loading.

  2. Flash websites. They're slow, annoying with all the animation, and you can't right-click / "open in new tab" the hyperlinks.


Any web page that starts playing music or video without me explicitly clicking something to do so... I am IMMEDIATELY out of there and never coming back.


EFTPS.gov: They have these long complicated tax forms, with helpful looking little ? boxes next to some of the fields. I got 2/3 of the way down one of the forms and wanted more info. I thought, "no... they wouldn't do that to me, right?", so I clicked the question mark. It took me to another page and cleared my original form. (Clicking "back" took me to the blank form)


Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 6.0 , but may be because I'm using under Windows 2000/XP/Vista :S

Although I should say its UI is the least of my problems with VSS...

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The worst UI I've ever used is not one found on a computer screen.

I hate the 'vocal' interfaces you get when you call a company (read: wireless companies and financial institutions) and they try to impress you with their voice activated menu systems that a. never gives you the options you need, b. can never quite understand everything you say and c. needs you to start banging numbers a couple of rounds, or swearing to get to a person to have a conversation and try to get exactly what I need.

If I wanted to do the simple stuff (e.g., check my balance, pay a bill) I would have done it online. I call because I have a specific problem that I need to solve, and every time, their voice menu system just throws me into loops of frustration.


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Believe it or not, this is Access 2.0 and it's still in production. The screen shows request for credit card. This windows application is currently in process of replacement with web application.


It's a website, not an app - but it is foul! You have to visit the actual site to see all the animated loveliness.


I suspect it's deliberate though (at least I hope so), and I even suggest there is quite a bit of skill that has gone into making it this bad.

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MS Visio -.-

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Just about anything done with Remedy/ARS.


Because these applications are in the worst place: Created by DB-engineers according to business process managers. Neither of which will ever be forced to actually use the system themselves.

(You can find Remedy on the forth place of Dreckstool, a german I-Hate-This-Software-Hitlist.)


I would add any interface that tries to draw its own non-rectangular background window, that is, where it has rounded/curved corners in an attempt to look "cool". JarretV has an excellent example posted above. I have yet to see a single app like that that wasn't awful.


Super converter. The application is really useful, but just look at this...

Main window:

SUPER main window

Context menu:

SUPER context menu

And you really don't want to see the "skins" that come with it....


I think tab index

when it's not set properly, using the software can be a pain


Crystal Reports

I haven't used it in a few years, so hopefully it's improved since.


Windows Update's balloon notifications (from the Windows XP era). Every time I click a button it minimises to the system tray and pops up a notification. I click the notification to dismiss it and the dialog comes back. It's whack-a-mole hell.


Microsoft outlook. While I'm ok with the rest of the office suite this one just leaves me baffled. Why have email, calendar, tasks and whathaveyou combined in one application when there's no real integration between them? The search is ridiculously slow and "oh you wanted to search in other places than your inbox? well just click here and here and here".

I guess what it boils down to is combine the stress and burden of your emails with a subpar interface and you have the recipe for a really unpleasant experience.


Oh God, Cadence Allegro, hands down. Easily the most painful software I've ever had the unfortunate necessity of using in my entire life.

It was routine to go through roughly 30-45 minutes of options-setting and configuration screens on a new project. I can't believe it's an industry-standard product.

A relatively tame screenshot of Allegro:

Cadence Allegro


Stupidest dialog boxes ever.

Mac shareware version of Risk

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I am sure you will read this one twice.Couldn't control myself laughing at it.How worse can something be?

Microsoft's SQL Server 6.5 -- Enterprise Manager

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The IM software Miranda. Try opening up their configuration dialog. It is absolutely hopeless to find even simple things like highlighting or auto-joining IRC rooms.


phpMyAdmin is increadibly bad in the terms of user interface.

I am especially frustrated with new version where developers decided to switch functionality of table selector.

There always was the name of table which led to structure of table and tiny unclickable icon that led to data of table. It was bad, but when you got used to it, it could be used. Now they switched it and as we manage more servers with different version it is always trial and error to get to where you want to.

Many more bugs and anti-features plague this product, but I am afraid that there is nothing better to be used.


There are two I want to share.

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Worst of all popular mail providers.



My interface feature pet peeves are:

  • Straying too far from the style of the environment you're developing for, i.e. Apple software on Windows.

  • Don't alienate existing users by completely changing your interface paradigms between versions! i.e. Microsoft Office.

  • If your software requires a 50 page manual just to explain the lexicon of the subject your software covers, it's too complex. The learning curve should be shallow for the target audience. If the end user has to apply any different concepts than they already understand for their everyday job, then they should be as simple to understand as possible. Don't make them have to learn to do their job completely differently to understand your software. In fact, if at all possible, don't even make them think!

  • Why don't installers follow the same design concept as other software? I don't understand them and no matter how much reading I do on them I just don't seem to get it. Why am I limited to template forms, and why are they such a pain in the a$$ to build? I should be able to write forms (a la C#) and insert them into the workflow just like I can on any regular C# application. Is this one of those concepts you either understand or don't? like pointers/recursion? A build script is similar - written in XML... consequently I just don't understand this whole genre of software. How can you build a piece of software from essentially a database? So I guess this whole genre of software comes under my software design pet peeves. WiX, InstallShield, Windows Installer, Wise, InstallAnywhere... All the tools out there for this appear to try and renovate the same concept in the same but slightly more useful way. Someone needs to completely renovate the entire underlying concept to something more dynamic and intuitive.

  • Web Interfaces - Use the label's "for" attribute to tie labels to their respective controls so that when I click on the label, the cursor is put in the control.

  • Use the correct tab indexing so that I can tab through fields in the right order. There's nothing worse than tabbing to the next field to find you're not in the field you should be.

  • Don't use auto-postback on fields that don't require auto-postback, there's nothing worse than having to wait to fill in the next field. Use AJAX if you need dynamic fields!

  • Don't automatically assume I want your software run at startup or put in the task tray, ask me and I will choose if I want that or not!

  • xkcd - I love xkcd, but the tooltip picture title never shows long enough to read it, and when I mouse back over the picture it won't come back unless I click on a different window first. Usually I have to view source to read the whole thing!

  • StackOverflow pet peeve - when I click on a link it doesn't open in a new tab/window. It takes me off to the new page, then I can never remember which window had StackOverflow in so it takes me a minute to get back to the question I linked from! I have to remember to right click the link and select open in new tab/window.

  • Outlook Web Access for Exchange 2003 - The change font drop down never seems to work, I have to fiddle with it for ages to get it to select the font I want. And then sometimes, it seems to change the font through some combination of keystrokes I have no idea of and then I can't put it back because it won't let me select any of the fonts in the drop down as it keeps flicking back to the currently selected one!


Cubase... it sucks after all these years, maybe it looked better on the Atari ST...


Cluttered, complicated and requires you to jump through many many hoops to achieve something simple.


+1 vote for Lotus Notes - absolutely horrible.

MS office is an ok UI, but I have to complain about when they change the location of functionality and features from release to release. AIIIRRGGGH!

Most web UIs also stink.

Serena PVCS for web is another "winner"

sorry, no time now for screenshots or descriptions


The Remedy UI can be very frustrating...



Personalized Menus. You know, the ones where menu options are hidden because you don't use them very often, and then you have to completely open up the menu to get to the other options.

I remember where things are in relation to other things (by proximity), so when a program hides menu options, I get lost.

Also, multi-row tabs, where you click on a tab in the middle row, and suddenly all of the tabs are shuffled around. Now I have to read all the tabs again. In general, I don't like it when programs move things around. I like them to stay in one place where I can remember where they are.


Most of the SQL management tools - Enterprise manager, OEM of Oracle, SQL Plus are all painful.


I'm going with any Mac OS prior to OSX. Everything was the same color.

Or iTunes.


An Excel "Project management" template seems to have triggered some emotions in this SO answer ;)

Pipetalk Scheduler:

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our university forces us to use it, it sucks, I hate it!!!


phpMyAdmin is pretty bad.


Any application with a curved border even when maximised, such that clicking in the top corner of your screen will miss and close the application underneath it!

Apple Safari for Windows used to be guilty of this.


SUPER "The Encoder" is a very useful app that needs a big UI overhaul!

Their website also needs an overhaul!

The horror!


Did you played World of Warcraft with custom addons? That is sick, I could nominate it for worst GUI ever.

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Windows Explorer definitely. Copying files from one folder to another is tedious. Also the command prompt should be in the bottom of it like it is in Total Commander.


Anything found in Lotus Notes.


Visual Paradigm. Extremely slow, ugly (Java...), and crammed full with stuff.

Visual Paradigm


That would be Notepad. Too many buttons. So Confusing. The help doesn't cover all the features.

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Anything made by SAP.


HP Service Desk

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Impossible to use without extensive training/instruction. A request as blindingly simple as, "Can I get access to container 'U123'?" becomes a multi-day submit/correct/submit/correct/submit cycle followed by just walking over to the DBA's building with your laptop, sitting next to them and having them fill in the request for you. The kicker is that even THEY don't know how to use it, they just have access to word documents that give detailed step-by-step instructions on writing requests, including tables of esoteric codes that need to be cut and pasted into specific cells for no apparent reason.

This software is so bad that a group in IT recived one of the company's highest honors for overcoming the rollout of HP Service Desk and returning to their former productivity.


I just saw an IP phone software yesterday that a friend wrote. The UI looks fine - looks like a cell phone - but behaves in a most unusual and surprising manner. Right clicking on it brings up the options dialog (ok that's kinda acceptable if there's nothing else to be put on the context menu) but if you double click it...the application exits. Most applications on Windows maximizes on double clicking and those that use a different look than the default Windows look (or don't want to be maximized) disable the double click, but it was most shocking to see a Windows application exiting upon double clicking (to be honest, not even linux or mac applications do that). He said their UI designer had said he wanted to give users "a new experience". One might as well hire a monkey as a UI designer then.


Two things:

  • Tooltips that cover what I am reading (yeah I like to point at it with the mouse pointer :)
  • That I accidentally grab a folder an pull it into another folder just because I happend to apply a little too much pressure on the left mouse button. (I guess the feature is "drag and drop" in this particular case).

Oh, it's three things:

  • That Windows copies the formatting by default instead of having that option as an extra.

Web pages that "cleverly" turn off the right click (in a purported effort to prevent users from saving/copying information or images).



They do what they can to create close-to-usable user interfaces in Java, but honestly, I haven't seen ONE Java-written UI I could say I like. The look and feel of every Java application is just strange.

Btw, has anyone noticed how in Eclipse you sometimes cut stuff out of the editor and it magically disappears from the clipboard before you try to paste it? The way Java programs handle mouse/keyboard events is odd. If you disagree, please provide an example of a Java-written UI you are satisfied with.


A dialog I created. Fortunately it has long disappeared from our application :-)

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WOMS This is an awful MS Access powered database I had to use at a temp job. The only thing that kept me going was the pretty wallpaper I found when I was looking forward to getting Windows Vista.


The Logitech Harmony Software is to me the best UI ever (this software configures the Harmony remote, from logitech).

The first menu is quite ok (even if all the UI is an HTML page) alt text

But, then, if you want to configure something, it's a real nightmare. Instead of menus or buttons, you have some radio-buttons to select something to change/configure, and a 'next' button to to change what you select. And also a 'finish' button you can press even if your changes are not finish or valid. And a triple confirmation is asked... Very awful and unattractive. And all the menus are unusable like that... alt text


Most cell phones.



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How complicated can you make a GUI to merely shut down your computer??


Hibernate on Windows XP.

Stand By

Who would of thought of holding down the Shift key!



One more: Microsoft Project. And for the ultra-hardcore fans out here: Microsoft Project Professional with Project Server 2007.

I think it's the Lotus Notes of Project Management Software.


I would say the Windows Vista/Networking configuration tool (TCP/IP, wireless networks, etc).

Even with some experience in it I can never find what I want without clicking the wrong items, or without opening at least a couple of (modal!) windows.

Try explaining (without a computer in front of you) to your grandmother over the phone how to delete a wireless network and reconnect to it because the security has changed from WEP to WPA (A completely fictional example by the way :)).

I think Modal dialogs are one the most horrible and overused UI elements, and generally not necessary.

Lotus Notes (especially the so-called 'designer') is a good second.


NDepend is a GREAT product, but the busy, scary UI totally freaks me out.

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Windows cmd.exe

Why can't I select text (using the mouse as usual, or shift + arrow keys) and use Ctrl + c to copy and Ctrl + v to paste text to it, like in every other Windows application?

Additonally the edit > mark "feature" cmd.exe has is not line based but rectangle based, so most of the time you have unwanted stuff in your selection as well.

And it's really cool that it doesn't support UTF-8, but uses codepage 437 (or 850).

EDIT: Just noticed, that you can temporarily change the codepage to UTF-8 in console programs, but you cant set UTF-8 as default encoding.


The search in Fogbugz. The version we use at work has a search box and has no advanced search page so if you don't know the query language for the box you're buggered.


I used to work at a hardware store, and the retail management system we used was just AWFUL. It was written in FoxPro and had many delightful features:

  • Red text indicated that a text box was editable. Normal text meant it was not.
  • Text boxes were filled with spaces. When you clicked in a text box, the pointer would quickly snap back to the first non-space character. This also meant that typing was also handled by some hacktastic method. If you had the insert key on, you were screwed.
  • When searching (e.g. for a customer, an inventory item), you could only search by one column of the grid they used, and only for strings at the beginning of a word ? no actual filtering.
  • The user interface "flashed" at a small size before it was redrawn at a higher resolution.
  • The previous was especially bad when sometimes two to three windows would pop up at a time before you were able to interact with it.
  • To get from one part of the application to another (e.g. from ringing sales to looking up an inventory item), you had to hit [esc] until you got to a completely blank screen. From there, you accessed the menu to get to where you wanted to go. The menus were inaccessible in normal system usage.
  • This is not a UI detail, but multiple retail stations were handled by having a network-mapped database file accessed by multiple clients.

The tcsh shell.

It's vilely inconsistent and buggy.

As a small example, set/setenv/alias all use different notations for assigning variables (or aliases):

dbr% set something 'a'
set: Variable name must begin with a letter.
dbr% set something='a'
dbr% setenv something='a'
setenv: Syntax Error.
dbr% setenv something 'a'
dbr% alias something='a'
dbr% alias something 'a'

Even little things like the history is reformatted when you retrieve it..:

dbr% if(1) echo something;
dbr% if ( 1 ) echo something ;

There's much bigger issues I've run into at work (with an older version of tcsh we're basically stuck with), but the above transcript is from tcsh 6.14.00 (the most recent is 6.15)..

There are a lots of articles on it's buggyness, for example this one from 1996 or this, and quite a few of the bugs are still around in the very recent version shipped with OS X Leopard..


Definitely SAP R/3.


A website I use to pay one of my credit cards gives you a transaction # (~20 characters long) at the end (which I like to put into Quicken rather than print out) but their body has the following attribute:

<body onselectstart="return false;">

Which means I have to view source and then find text around the transaction number, just to copy/paste it. It seems so arbitrary, like the developer thought he was clever by coming up with it. I cannot imagine how it could help the experience, and in this case (that the devs might not have considered) it hurts.

  • Javascript hyperlinks which you can't open in a new tab.

  • Websites where the pages gets dynamically shifting URL:s which you cannot bookmark or link to, but have to link to the main page and describe the sequence of clicks....


This. Fortunately I was able to ditch it. :)

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alt text


The QSTAR optical jukebox interface is a nightmare. Nested tab controls, sometime 3 layers deep and each with an embedded combobox at the top that needs to be re-selected every time you change tabs. Icons that have little or noting to do with their purpose. No online help and lots of random buttons all over place inviting you to do things like "Clear Error Condition State" and "Apply PC" Yuck!

Qstar Interface



I wrote this XPath Tool and agree with much of the first 'nomination' comments (though 'despise' was a bit strong - it illustrates well just how emotive UIs can be). Various aspects of the UI are unconventional (some even experimental) and therefore unintuitive. Also, guilty as charged for not hiding more controls from the 'average user' - quite a lot is hidden already - but I could have done more.

This product was written to fill a gap, which it hopefully does, but further work is scheduled to improve the UI.

SketchPath Screenshot.

Screenshot of SketchPath

[Update] Seen below is a 'worst-case' for the SketchPath successor. This deals with 10,000 files instead of 1, but hopefully learns lessons from earlier criticism of the UI? (Vertical panels inspired by TweetDeck)

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GPG. So unbelievably usability-free.


TOAD for Oracle management.


The VS References dialog for a C++/CLI project. I hate this for the sole reason that this window is not resizable. And the meat of the thing is in that small box in the middle labelled "References:".

alt text

Oops! Sorry about that side bar, folks.


The Ribbon

the Word 2007 Ribbon

Sure lots of ppl will tell me that it's the best thing MS ever did to the Word Menu. But shouldn't good UI/UX design include transitioning from one release to the next. FAIL! in my book.

There's not even a Search (for menu items)!


SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Manager. Not a single dialog window can be resized so you're left scrolling textfields with the keyboard in order to see their content, and scrolling through a list of all your tables that only displays 5 at a time when you've got an enterprise database back there with over 200 tables on it. Beggers belief that no one at Microsoft put this through its paces.

  • Double clicking on a word sends you to another page even if the work is not a link. It's killing me since I'm always double clicking randomly while reading a page. I know, I have issues...

  • Text on a web page that is disabled and not selectable. Why can't I select the text???

  • Mouse right click displaying "No right click on this page!"

  • Links opening in new windows without warning me

  • drop-down menus that go more than two levels deep, and have a short timeout to close - so you have to try and select the option 5 times before getting it right.

  • excessive use of modal windows in a web app.


Stuttgart Neural Network Simulator (SNNS), the old Xaw gui was very painful (the new frontend based on Java is much better).

Besides the awful look and feel, widget layout, and the fact that you had to put the mouse over every single box to get the focus, there was one inputext to enter the name of the neural network file to load or save that couldn't handle more than a fistful of characters (I cannot remember how many exactly, but maybe less than fifty, wich is insufficient if you want to put a not very exaggerated absolute path).

main window another window

EasyCASE was a crappy CASE tool that I had to use at the University (and after a quick search in Google I think it was only used at the Spanish Universities, so lame). You can find a few shameful screenshots here; but the worst of all was that to drag a box you had to do a triple click over it to start and lock the drag and click again to release and drop it... I was lucky enough to discover it, but most of my fellows just kept clicking randomly a lot until it happened to work xD


Most of the posts here are UIs that are more complex than necessary, this is the opposite. Simplicity at the cost of utility.

It's incredibly complicated to actually accomplish anything with overly sensitive vertical scroll/clicking pad in the middle, along with the completely unpredictable buttons on the sides (I still don't know what the curved arrow with the dot button in the upper left does, all I know is you exit your current playlist when it gets clicked, which you can't get back to easily).

The touch pad in the middle that controls both scrolling and clicking is by far it's worst feature; it seems to have an shockingly accurate ability to sense which you're trying to do, and chooses to do the opposite.

Creating a playlist of more than a few songs is completely out of the question, as is diligently controlling the device in anything other than a completely stationary context (ie running or in a moving vehicle). If you click when you're supposed to scroll you can get anything from moving to a different screen unpredictably to exiting and losing a playlist you were in the middle of building.

Also if you plug into a computer and copy songs using the usb mass storage device feature you get an unpredicatble number of entries in your song list. I have some songs that are on my playlist as many as five times because of this.

  • GIMP
  • Blender 3D
  • Internet Explorer 1-6

It screwed the definition of "uninstall".


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In general, every program written with Xt library. They are a bunch of monochrome rectangles with idiotic (or non-existant) keyboard shortcuts. No other thing comes close.


The Powerbuilder IDE givis me the creeps.


Allen-Bradley's ControlView. It was one of the first SCADA's, built onto an MS-DOS based, so-called-real-time kernel which pre-empted threads every 500 milliseconds. It featured EGA (640x350, 16-color) graphics when 800x600 SuperVGA's were becoming mainstream, Microsoft-only mouse support when even Microsoft supported Mouse Systems Mouse emulation, it had to be installed in a C:\ACCESS directory whose name was pretty much hard-wired all over and which contained all sorts of obscure sub-directories with three-letter names... but the real PITA was its graphics editor, called "Mouse Graphix". It had a built-in mouse driver clearly written for a 5-dpi-or-so mouse, so a very firm hand was a must, otherwise you were almost sure of selecting the wrong menu item; needless to say, next to one of the most used items there was the infamous "Clear All", whose confirmation dialog box was absolutely the worst piece of UI ever conceived. It went like this:

Cancel this operation? (Changes will be lost)

YES         NO

"Obviously" you had to answer NO to confirm and YES to cancel.
"Obviously" changes would be lost if you answered NO.
"Obviously" there was no Undo. Oh wait, there was an Undo feature, but you had the option of disabling it altogether and we usually did, because it slowed down things to the point where every single operation would cost you 30 seconds of waiting for the hard disk to apparently grind coffee.

To make things even worse, Mouse Graphix automatically moved the mouse pointer to the default button every time it displayed a dialog box, just as Windows can do, but with no option to avoid it. And, its built-in mouse driver had no hysteresis applied to the button states, so any less-than-heavy click could easily turn into two or three click events... need I really tell you which was the default answer to the dialog above?

Other parts of ControlView were not so bad (I just loved its real-time database and PLC communication features, for instance) but Mouse Graphix, man, I've had nightmares about it for years.


Vista & Office 2007 - moving the location of learned functionality of previous iterations for the sake of calling it improved is not only subjective but maddening


I'd have to say GroupWise client. It's obvious it wants to be Outlook, but can't quite cut it. Display settings are often lost and have to be reset. Most options are not found in the Option dialog. Just tweaking the UI is a pain. If I want to rearrange my folders, is it in the View menu? No. View | Folder List? No. Maybe Actions? No. Window? Tools? Tools | Options? No, no and nope. Try the Edit menu. Wha??? Totally unintuitive.


I'll be impressed if I get any votes for this, but I suspect that most people out there that have tried this product would agree...

Campaign Cartographer, by ProFantasy.

This is a piece of mapping software, where you can draw landmasses, drop on some widgets like cities or mountains, etc. This sounds very straightforward, but trying to do darn near anything in this product is incredibly difficult.

To erase an item, for example, you would think you would click on the item, and then press delete or backspace or something like that. Not so.

Instead, you must first find the erase button, among the many mysterious buttons that line up around every side of the app window. You click that, then you must draw a box around the item you want to delete. Then you must right-click elsewhere on the page, and select "Do It" from the pop-up menu.

It only gets worse from there.


Maybe not so bad compared to some others, but I always shudder in fear when I have to use Super (c) video converter alt text


I would have to say Word 2007 for Windows, at least on first use. I upgrade from 2003, and bam!: "Where on the earth did my icons and menu bar go?". And why is there a freaking start menu?

Thankfully this corruption never hits the Mac version.




See just about anything Bruce Tognazzini has been writing about for aeons, my (least) favorite is applications that steal focus.


Cubase (the music sequencer from Steinberg) had one of the most confusing and overwhelming UI's I've ever encountered:

Cubase 3

And also, for sheer fugliness, IE7/8 must get a mention, too.



The program is great in converting any type of video or audio files into other formats but the GUI is so terrible and hard to use...it's just pain!


Amazon website. How do you log out once you have logged in?

There is a button that says "Not " but why would you click that when you are you!?


SharePoint. Hands down awful for the user community. What were they thinking? You have constantly scroll and click way too much when configuring web parts. And don't even think you'll be able to train users to update content - it's way too complicated, and people who have other CMS systems revolt when they have to click Site Actions, find the web part, click Edit, scroll to right, scroll down, then type a URL - oh wait, I forgot to copy the URL so I have to start over.


A long time ago Oracle had an application similar to Microsoft's query analyzer where you could type in pl/sql - but the window where you entered code was about 8 characters wide by 10 characters long (OK I am sure I am exaggerating a bit). You could never see more than a tiny fraction of what you were coding. There was no way to increase the size of that little window.


I dislike gimps UI. For the sake of multiple top level windows, or windows in front of windows which have no taskbar entry. Hell no.


I vote for the old ZoneAlarm interface. it was awful. Fortunately the latest update really cleaned it up, but I don't have a screenshot any more...


AIM Messenger....

Why? Everytime see someone use it and regardless of the platform they're on...

It's hideous!


All of the default apps on Windows Mobile. Phone is just could not be used as such without third-party replacements. They look ugly and they can't do they job at all.


Basically any program that overrides standard keyboard shortcuts like command+C and command+V for copy/paste (or in the windows world when control+insert doesn't copy or shift+insert doesn't paste it really ticks me off).


Without a doubt for me it's the "are you sure you want to exit" popup that some apps seem to insist on displaying. 99.99999% of the time I'm certain I want to exit, yet 100% of the time I have to respond to this dialog.

Fortunately not too many apps do this, but when I encounter one it drives me up the wall.


Disallow allow copy/paste.


Not so much a part of the application UI itself, but I hate it when the installer creates a Start Menu folder using the company's name and then the application's name as a subfolder. Makes finding the shortcut again very difficult, because now I have to remember who made the program rather than what it's actually called.


I would say Oscommerce. The most ugly ecommerce template. alt text


Solomon IV Service Series was awful. No, that doesn't do it justice. Solomon was impressively F*#@-ed up.

I had almost forgotten the horror, but thanks to this thread my long-repressed memories have bubbled to the surface. So much for all that precious time and money spent on therapy and hypnotism!

We had to upgrade all of our systems to machines 2-3x as fast, with 4x as much RAM, just to run it. Even with the blazingly fast new workstations, Solomon still ran (er...crawled) slow. We commonly joked that the faster machines just allowed Solomon to crash faster and let us reboot more quickly. Sadly, it was only a joke for the first couple of days...after that, it was just a very disheartening statement of fact. Originally we were still running Windows 95--that had to go, too, because only an enterprise-class operating system like Windows NT 4.0 could handle Solomon's frequent crashes without requiring a reboot. Well...almost. We found out later that WinNT couldn't always handle the crashes, but at least we were sometimes able to save any other files we had open and semi-gracefully reboot the system.

In order to do anything, you had to memorize seemingly random patterns of buttons and menus to click on. There was no logic to the order in which you opened up new screens to enter new customer data, look up existing tickets, etc. There were several different ways to do do almost everything, but nobody could get the same series of steps to produce the same result (except for hanging the system--that feature was implemented particularly well).

To top it all off, Solomon Service Series was apparently built on top of a set of lobotomized VB libraries, which meant Solomon didn't "work" (if you can call it that) like any other Windows application any of us had ever used. The text fields' behavior sometimes wasn't even consistent within a single screen. A few cases in point:

  • Several text fields were stuck permanently in overwrite mode, so you had to copy & paste the contents of the field into Notepad, edit the contents, and copy & paste from Notepad back into Solomon.
  • Many text fields wouldn't allow you to copy or paste (including some of the fields that were permanently stuck in overwrite mode). You could neither right-click the mouse nor use Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V to copy/paste these fields.
  • Several fields were too short to insert meaningful messages.
  • The UI was an absolute maze.
  • Every dialog and screen had a numeric title which meant nothing to the user.
  • Buttons and menus had cryptic names, some of which did the opposite of what you would expect them to.
  • The program was astoundingly slow. Just tabbing to the next field would often bring the system to its knees. Imagine how much we dreaded actually clicking on buttons!
  • Solomon frequently (and sometimes nondeterministically) locked up the entire system, requiring us to reboot Windows or do a hard reset.

After several months of blood-boiling frustration due to system hangs and lost productivity, we discovered that you could sometimes interrupt a system hang and regain control of Windows. The on-site "Solomon Expert" from the third floor finally got tired of hearing us complain about the lock-ups and came down one day to demonstrate that the system worked perfectly for her.

I noticed that, as she zipped through the screens filling out a support ticket, something on the left side of the screen kept flickering on and disappearing, and she frequently reached all the way to the left of her keyboard to do something. Being the Windows 95 Power User that I was, it didn't take me long to catch onto what she was doing: she was pressing Ctrl+Esc, which is the keyboard shortcut for bringing up the Start Menu (none of our keyboards had "windows" keys, so I don't know if that would have also worked). As she continued demonstrating how great the system worked, I pointed out the Start Menu flicker to some of my colleages and we asked her, "Wait, what did you just do?" She showed us several more times as we tried to get her to notice that she was using an undocumented "feature" that nobody had ever told us about, but she didn't even realize she was pressing any extra keys until we told her to go one keystroke at a time and stopped her in her tracks when she reached for Ctrl+Esc. Somehow she had figured out a "hack" that allowed her to just barely trick this unusable software into working well enough for her.

In my free time, I started working on a replacement GUI app that would interface with the same database as Solomon, but which would actually "work," so to speak. My code-name for it was "DSD," for "Die, Solomon, Die." Unfortunately, I only had a copy of Visual Studio.NET Beta 1 to work with, and the GUI editor in Beta 1 really wasn't ready for prime-time. The time it took to refresh the GUI editor was apparently n!, where n was the number of components added to the Windows Form. On top of that, my tenure as a student was drawing to a close. I was about to get a new job, far, far away from Solomon, and nobody else really seemed to have the appropriate background or enough time and interest to pick up where I left off.

Oh, what we all would have given for a UI as sleek, robust, and user-friendly as FileMatrix.


My own in my latest project.


We've got this Oster toaster oven. Probably large enough to cook a turkey, but is seldom used for anything larger than two slices of bread. I don't even want to think about how much energy this thing wastes heating up the entirety of its enormous chamber.

Anyhow, the buttons on this thing are those idiotic flush pressure type. Buttons marked "start", "stop" and "toast", which you'd expect to be prominent, are buried within a poorly arranged cluster of about a dozen buttons. I have to stare at this piece of garbage for ten seconds to figure out how to make toast or to stop it once it's incinerated another perfoectly innocent slice of bread.


The windows command prompt. Bash to the rescue!


Probably I do better not suggest this one:


(Actually, I really do like what Jakob teaches)


You'll wish you hadn't seen these websites. Sorry for this :P




I must agree with blender, It's what I learned on. But trying to go back to it after using 3DS Max for a while is impossible. Everything is buried under so many tabs.


I'd say Windows Explorer. That "user-friendly" interface with nice shortcuts turns an average computer newbie into a completely clueless idiot after a couple of years. Re-educating somebody who clicks without reading and thinking first is very hard, because this becomes a rock-solid habit and affects the way one thinks.


Helix, an old mac (pre OS X) database. It was actually kind of an interesting product in that it tried to be a "create your own relational db" in a graphical form. Unfortunately, a definition of a table included an enormous list of graphical elements representing calculations, relations with other databases, indexes, fields, views of fields, screens defined on the table, ...

I'm sure it didn't help that I had to maintain an enormous app written in this, where a "table" might have a list of hundreds of elements, all helpfully mixed together into a giant and appetizing stew.

Here's a screenshot of the only piece of this I could find online - you'd glue a bunch of these together to make something called an "abacus", and you'd point it to a field to display a calculated value (the name getting cut off in the screenshot was a normal behavior, BTW). alt text


Settings in Outlook 2003...


Oracle SQL Developer and its wonderful ability to freeze for minutes every time I click somewhere, on every machine I tested it on.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office's patent search pages.

I've just been searching for some patents a friend has. Difficult search interfaces like this make you so grateful that Google came along when it did.

Should be easy, but it's really hard. Just searching by Inventor Name has lots of little gotchas. You start by typing in Joe Blogs no answer, you try Blogs, some patents come up, you look at them, realise names are listed like Blogs; Joe A. (obvious eh!?), try searching for Blogs; Joe A., get nothing, mess around and eventually realise that Blogs; Joe A gets you what you want. Gah!!

You can also query using this strange DSL where you can do things like search for: in/"Joe; Blogs" AND an/"XYZ Corp" to get patents for Joe Blogs on behalf of XYZ Corp. Quirky. Probably powerful if you take the time to learn it. But who wants to do that?


Gotta but the escape button in theDraw (an early 90's ASCII drawing editor) being the Help button.


My favorite is when itunes renders all the text labels on top of each other after any type of session restore (lock, sleep and especially hibernate) or when it renders the entire window black

The fact that the Express edition of SQL Server doesn't come with any real UI besides VS which I suppose reflects it's market a little but they have released an express edition of Managemnt Studio, why they dont ship with that I don't know

The Office Assistant, any place at all where Microsoft Agent is used, especially when it's used as an ActiveX control on a web site.

The Safari preferences UI on windows doesn't have an OK button, I am aware that simply closing the window constitutes a save on OS X but when I'm on windows it's disconceting to use the close button on a dialog when not abandoning changes. The annoying growing / shrinkinhg animation on that dialog when you change tabs

Synergy, aweful aweful buttons and background colours, reminds me of VCL buttons a.k.a. Botland buttons. Windows media player 7 8 9 and 11 when used on vista, the massive overuse of Aero glass in that UI Infinite loops in Access when trying to close a form and you havent filled in a required feild with an input mask your unsure of

Small footprint mode in Task Manager


Go to http://www.gazza.com.na/, enter the site, and check out the navigation menu at the top: every item opens a single subitem that is identical to itself. Not so much annoying as puzzling and pointless, that one.

On the other hand, Gazza is a sweet musician, in my opinion. So all is forgiven.


Too many options. For example, Windows Start > Log Off / Shut Down / Hybernate / Sleep / Lock

Also, dialog boxes that won't let you focus/ALT-TAB anything else.


"Controlled Single Document Interface"

See: http://library.gnome.org/devel/hig-book/stable/windows-primary.html.en#csdi

Also see: GIMP, http://www.gimp.org/screenshots/

Instead of menus and toolbars and such, we'll just stick entirely separate windows all over your desktop! Who wouldn't want that?


Most annoying feature I've seen was in an old simulation language (Simscript I believe) if you typed:

c:> simscript /?

The response from the program would be:

Enter simscript /h for help

No other missed command line would do that, just the '?'. It new what I wanted but refused to give it to me.


Nested tab controls can be particularly exasperating. Some internal business systems I've seen had up to four levels of nested tabs ... ugh!


The Microsoft Certification Exam application - both the practice one you get with those Microsoft Press Training Kits and the real-deal one. Poor keyboard support, unresizable, seemingly overtly hostile towards scrolling in every way imaginable.


VMware Infrastructure Client

It is slow! It doesn't work, and it breaks all the time.

Try to create a new VM. As it is being created, you can see it on the list of VMs. Now right click it and select Edit settings.

How can you edit settings on a machine being created? You can't. You get a freaking null reference exception!

And it has way more flaws than you could ever imagine.

VMware and the concept of virtualization is great. But the Infrastructure Client is the Worst UI I've Ever Used!


vBulliten. It is absolutely hideous (the default theme)


Visual Studio's help system.


IBM's Rational Rose. Had to use this at school, and I think I'd have preferred SAP over it.


alt text

Note the static sized text area/iframe (or whatever it is) containing all the product specifications. (@1920x1200)



  • hundreds of links with names like "link", "click me", "read me"
  • page too wide to fit on a 1680 display
  • generally categorized as a sprawling mess

Cars have a pretty bad UI. Whose idea was it to put the "go" two inches away from the "stop," then hide them both down by your feet?

I've heard of a ton of completely preventable accidents caused by "I meant to hit the brake, but hit the gas instead!"

Also, the placement of the horn is not something you want drivers to have to think about in a time of emergency; unfortunately, it's non-standard, being in the center of some cars and the edge of the steering-wheel in others.

Back in the days before air-bags, there was a big round ring that you could press on anywhere to cause the horn to go off.
airbag-free horn
Cars today need to improve upon that idea, by keeping the current, less-dangerous-to-smash-your-face-into design, while allowing users to push anywhere on the center of the wheel to honk the horn. This should be standardized, or even enforced by law, to prevent as many accidents as possible.


The SUPER video converter website. It takes three hard to find "Download" links to get to the download itself from the homepage, the first two of which lead to another unorganized page consisting of either lists of features or instructions on how to do complicated things.

Then there's the interface of SUPER itself.



Modal Dialogues!!

I hate modal dialogue boxes. Especially in apps that supposedly have multiple independent windows. You pop up a dialogue box on one and suddenly, you can't do anything in any of the other windows either. Especially select and copy information to enter into the dialogue box.


Eclipse isn't that great either compared to it's competition (netbeans for example) but the absolute worst UI that i have used would probably be hotmails


YouTube, which cannot scroll through comments without blowing the video frame off the screen.


I'd say the Control Data NOS text editor. Combine an interface that makes teco look straightforward with not quite achieving the expressive power of notepad.

Search for a string? Sorry, you have to rewind the file first. Yes, those are separate commands.

In OSes that had, say, somewhat more market penetration than NOS, I'll go with DEC's VMS text editor. Not bad if you were on a DEC terminal, but miserable if you had another vendor's TTY hooked up.


Countless websites with forms for entering addresses while the input text field has a max limit of 10 characters.


I have never seen a time tracking application with a good ui. (I'd be delighted to be proven wrong though)


I once worked for a company that had a web-based UI that had a transition page with a button containing the text 'Do not press this button' on it. Pressing the button caused it to grey itself out and display 'Do not press this button again'.


Photoshop is an otherwise fine example of a good GUI imo, but they did get one thing horribly wrong: F12 which is "save as" in Office is Revert to last saved change in Photoshop - No questions asked and no undo!


Intel VTune!




This was one of the first sites I was directed to when I started learning Perl. Though the underlying sytem is quite similar to another site that I am a regular user of, the strange layout and plethora of links at the very top of the page was downright repulsive. I still grimace whenever I visit the site but the content is simply outstanding (though a bit hard to reach at times). All this from a site that has the line "Keep It Simple, Stupid" at the page start.


Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite

Most of the UI is acceptable at best.

Points of particular annoyance:

  1. Gratuitous use of notification balloons which sometimes screw up and take ages to fade out
  2. Usage metere is dependent on which USB port the device is plugged into
  3. The app was written in VB 6 and looks the part
  4. With older device firmware the device is not usable through windows RAS UI making the application unavoidable
  5. The aforementioned older firmware must be updated on a windows xp box, attempting to do so on vista results in a bricked device as one might expect
  6. The session timer will not excedd 9:59:59. I'm not sure if this applies to the current session data metre but it wouldn't surprise me

Also why hasn't anyone mentioned Comunity Server yet


Any website that uses a table to limit the width of the content to <800px.
Like wordpress, or blogspot.

Additionally, if I use my browser to zoom in, i get one word per line, and HUGE empty space on the sides.


BridgeTrak. I finally convinced the project manager the database password so I didn't have to use it anymore.

Actually, since they hosted it on our old dev server, I had the sa password anyway. However, because of the annoying way it set up its schema, it was almost impossible to query unless you used its own user.

These days, sales reps are a bit impressed that I can look up info faster than they can by typing into query analyzer (BridgeTrak takes forever to load).


an ERP application originally written in ASP had a large animating telephone GIF on one of the pages, it was constantly moving and very annoying!


The french train company: SNCF


How about clicking on "start" to end a Windows session?


I have to say that in over 30 years of using computers, Clarity has by far the worst interface ever. Clearly the designers never actually tried to use what they came up with. Discussions take too long to load (and you can only see one message at a time, so useful for a project that takes months or weeks), so people don't bother with them, instead they send emails, so details of actual decision are not documented in a project. There is literaly no way to see what project you are in half the time (especially if you come inthrough an email link) and no way to sort by client (or even see what client the project belongs to on most screens) or put something on hold and on and on. Every task takes a ridiculous number of keystrokes to perform and simple things that should be availble to anyone involved in a project aren't. Designers clearly never actually tried to manage multiple projects from this thing. Thank you for letting me vent.


A graphical programming environment with barely any interactivity: like visually laid-out flowcharts with no ability to rearrange or connect or disconnect nodes in the graph using the mouse.


In the second version of a popular football game for the PC, there was no room to add another interface piece, so the decision was made that you'd get a detail menu by DOUBLE-CLICKING on a radio button!

Obviously no one would ever find it on their own, so the instructions had to tell you how find the menu.


Wizards where there is a direct link or a phone number to get me what I need.

alt text


The unanchored multi-select used by iTunes is ridiculous. If you hit Shift-Down to select multiple items, pressing up will expand the selection from the top rather than shrinking the list from the bottom. You then have to start over or use the mouse to fix your selection.


javascript dropdown menus that goes horizontal first then vertical. You need gamer mouse accuracy to follow the thin horizontal line to get to your selection.

Also radio buttons/checkboxes that would not allow you to click on text to toggle. This is because some clever programmer decided that it wasn't cool so they juxtaposed a label next to the actual button


Partially loaded pages in Firefox (and possibly some other browsers) don't enable all of the location bar buttons. Two problems with this:

  1. There's no point in any level of any page load that I might never wish to interrupt. In particular, those obnoxious pages that set the focus to their search or login. So when I click in the location bar because I've browsed to the wrong page, half of the url ends up in the location bar and the other half ends up in the page's useless search field. Another option is those obnoxios pop-unders adverts that annoy you when you try to close them, but if you stop them quickly enough they might not get the chance.

  2. Sometimes I'll want to refresh a page that hasn't even loaded yet. Most often this is because the server is unreachable the first time I've tried. Once I get the connection up or the server listening for requests, the page will load fine. Except that the browser never saw a page and I have to click in the url field and press enter, or some other such hassle.


The text editor on an old Data General.

Client: "You ever used vi?"
Me: "Ugh...yes."
Client: "Well this is going to make Vi Look like Word."


It's Stack Overflow.





Just kiddin'. It's phpMyAdmin.


Microsoft Query that handy little tool for getting real data into Excel. Doesn't look like its had a girlfriend since the 80s.

Shame it hangs when you have a large number of results and that there's no way to cancel a query running. It also doesn't like complex queries such as unions or stored procedure calls.

Query main view


I think www.naturgrise.dk is pretty much a textbook example of how not to do web design.

The page is currently down with the message "Naturgrise er midlertidig lukket pga af sygdom" which translates to "Naturgrise (Nature-pigs?) is temporarily closed due to illness".

You can see how it looked before it closed using archive.org.


Pretty much any Linux GUI application I have used.


Not sure if this is the worst, but certainly took the cake in the most frustration and time wasted. It would be the web interface in Microsoft Project Server!

There used to be a great website called the user interface hall of shame. That had some fantastic additions and notes about why the listed pieces of software were so bad.


A telephone for any IVR application. No way to enter individual letters since each key corresponds to 3-4 characters. No display of entry, even no password ones. Many must wait for whole message before entering. Excessively long messages. Useless messages "to ... press 1 on your phone" (as if I was going to press 1 on the microwave).


This was an "Error" which occurred while installing Net Beans.It do suck.

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Our new Internet Banking app from Standard Bank Mauritious, the irony is now they released it we have to pay 30 bucks a months to use it. I could go on about various things and how impossible it is to use but what takes the cake is

A Fatal Error Has Occurred

[ Yes ] [ No ]

If I say no does the error go away and I can continue to do my banking?


Anything I wrote for personal use that I thought would be a "one-time temporary solution."

Seriously, I've written "UI" for myself that consisted of a bunch of spaghetti modules in VBA within Access with absolutely no commenting and no GUI interface. When I originally used the app, I simply pressed F5 on the keyboard while within a certain procedure and then waited for the magic to happen as it subsequently jumped through a dozen or so different procedures. The next time I went into the app, I had no idea where to start and couldn't even use it :-/.


How come anyone doesn't mention Oracle xe/apex ?


The Microsoft Office Products' GUIs aren't too bad normally. But on EVERY SINGLE NEW VERSION THEY ALWAYS CREATE A NEW UI. Sorry for caps, but it seems as soon I get accustomed to using PowerPoint (Seems to be the most common multimedia tool at our school D: ), the school gets a new version of it and I have to start learning the UI from scratch again.


I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned this yet, but the BMW iDrive is absolutely horrible. Nearly everything except driving -- changing the volume/radio station/current mp3, setting a GPS destination, changing the A/C or heating, etc. -- is done using a single knob, which you can spin, press in four directions, or push down on (the image is of the newer version, which mercifully adds a little more functionality):

A safe driver's worst enemy

This is the interface:


Making this even better is that to get to most things, you have to navigate multiple nested menus -- typically something like 3-7 -- to do anything at all. Better still, if you accidentally went barking up the wrong part of the menu tree, in the original iDrive you couldn't go back to the parent node; instead, you had to start at the root.

Now, admittedly, BMW made the system a little more usable in the current iteration, by adding programmable buttons and a modicum of voice control, but god help you if you bought a BMW with the original in it. The iDrive is proof that sometimes, minimalist interfaces are bad. BMW should have left i-prefixed devices with minimalist interfaces to Apple.


Everybody's old (not)favorite - IE6. Forgot about its pop-bar?

Worst nightmare ever, I must say. :D

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Telelogic Synergy is pretty bad. There is no consistency between pop-up dialogs... i.e. some have a 'Save' button and some don't and buttons aren't placed where you would expect from one dialog box to another.

It also remembers what you had selected on windows that are no longer open so if you tryto 'add selected' to a task you get some fairly random collection of objects.


I'm definitely going to second the vote for Blender. I have never been able to figure out quite how to use it (though that could be partly because I'm rather inexperienced with 3D modeling).


The Report Editor in Microsoft Access.

Nowhere near Lotus Notes, but to this day, I still absolutely hate Visual Basic only for the reason that it reminds me of building Forms and Reports in Access, even though it's not VB's fault


Z-Brush, although a very powerful tool left me baffled and confused. I'm an experienced user of photoshop and 3d studio, but Z-brush really makes me aggressive.

Maybe I could get used to it. Anyone here who works with Z-Brush regularly and can tell me what you think after prolonged use?


System properties, if you right-click 'My Computer' on Windows PC


Standard Time - Its web interface is not intuitive at all.


A mexican banking site called BancaNet, accessible through banamex.com - the worst banking site I've ever seen.


Worst Developer Tool UI:

Borland's StarTeam Client Tool (any version)


Telelogic Doors. It's terrible...


Telelogic Rhapsody. (Now it's Rational Rhapsody since IBM bought Telelogic)

One of the most important thing for me while using an application is the ability to carry on doing things using only the keyboard, without the aid of the mouse. But Rhapsody has a great policy: "Refresh the dialogs and lose the input focus whenever possible". That just drives me crazy.


HummingBird's information mining tool, was it written by the same follows behind Remedy


I've got to say the interface to find servers and join games in the Battlefield series games. (Battlefield 2)

They should all be slapped.


Infragistics AppStylist


Metrowerks CodeWarrior.


Oracle SQL Developer

Especially the Auto-Complete


I always loved the brilliant idea Microsog had in Office to make menus simpler by showing the full menu "after a short delay"


Pro Engineer beats them all. There are pop up menus and status bars from every conceivable place. No dialog is self consistent in the application. Doing anything unless you've been taught how to do it is difficult. Take the simplest thing you might want to do in a cad system: measure something. Takes a lot of clicks.

Modal dialogs to do everything. It should go back to Unix from whence it came.

They recently converted 1/2 the application to the MS 2007 style, and left the rest alone. Help has improved, but still sux.

The only reason we bought this was because one customer required it. Would have gone with Solid Edge if we had any choice.


Office 2007/8 ..... "The Ribbon"


Designing user interface without customer will be worst user interface for the customer.



Perhaps this is just the result of my frustrations in migrating from SQL Server (and having tools like Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer) to Oracle (and trying to do certain things in Toad), but it seems to me that even the most simple tasks are unnecessarily complex. I can tell that it's a very sophisticated piece of software capable of doing some really incredible things if I can ever figure them out, but the UI is so difficult to navigate that I have a hard time doing the not-so-sophisticated things.

I'm rather surprised nobody else has said this. Perhaps I'm just a noob, but like I said, it seems to me that transitioning from SQL Server tools should be a lot easier.


My hand watch / pulsemeter from Polar.

It has 3 buttons and a pretty simple LCD screen with 5-letter alpha display, standard 88:88 digital number display and some fixed LCD elements.

It would seem that should be enough for "up, down, OK" and a cancel option for a consistent menu-driven UI of "previous, next, OK" and each menu containing a "cancel" or "next, OK, cancel".

But in fact it feels like about 5 different apps, each using buttons according to their own system and changing their meanings as you go. Like, press left to enter alarm setting. press right up to switch from alarm setting to time setting. press left to increase minutes. press lower right to switch to hours. press and hold lower right to toggle 12/24h. press upper right to enter setting date. press again to exit time setting. now pressing it again will enter the file menu, where all keys have a different meaning again (you need to pressleft to exit it...)


Autoraise on focus.

On Windows, I use "focus follows mouse" (aka XMouse from the TweakUI kit). IDE's (and our old friend Lotus Notes) are the worst offender for raising their main window over all other windows when they receive focus.

My mouse accidentally strays over the IDE window and wham! Suddenly it obliterates the window I was looking at and raises itself over the top of all other windows. Why can't they make that an option?

And yes, I know that the alternative would be that the IDE can gain focus while its window is obscured behind the program I'm debugging, and that's confusing.

Maybe I'm not just enough of a conformist.


Apple Logic. The only Apple application I'm aware of that has two different menu bars. EEk.



"if" as an abbreviation for "input file"

"of" as an abbreviation for "output file"


Maybe Safari for Windows is just trying to help users out on right-clicks, but? I hate how a right-click on any word will select it. An ultra-short context menu comes up instead of allowing me to get to the "View Source" item that I really want.


The product recall search of cpsc.gov.

Horrid. They know it's confusing but have improperly compensated by using color instead of layout.


I'm going to be general here and just say "Any UI that has all the options in the main window"

The main window should be clutter free and only perform the main action. If you want to perform some other action. Then you should move away from the main window, into another main window, where the main action is the action you requested.


anything with "ribbons"


Photoshop, completely confusing, and requires training. I guess that is how they can justify what they charge for it. Preview does almost the same thing as Acrobat and it's free!