A foolish inconsistency

Author: Clark
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EdTech Café

EdTech Cafe
 Standford EdTech (Author)
EdTech Café is a podcast series produced by the educational technology team at Stanford Medicine.

Here, a foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblin of my little mind. While there are some learnings in here (for me and others), it’s really just getting stuff off my chest. Feel free to move along. This is just a lack of consistency that I suggest is unnecessary and ill-conceived.

I’ve hinted at this before, but I don’t think I’ve gone into detail. I like LinkedIn. It’s a useful augment for business networking. However, what drives me nuts is the inconsistency between the device app and the web interface.  One instance is sufficient: messaging someone you’ve just connected to.

So, on the device, if you link to someone, you immediately get a notice and a link to send them a message. And I like that, since I like to send a quick followup to everyone I link to (a trick I learned from a colleague).  On the device, it goes straight to the messaging interface. Perfect. Now, from the invitations on the app that I want to query (e.g. it’s not clear why they’ve linked) or to explain why I won’t (I generally don’t link to orgs, for instance), I can’t do that, but that’s ok, it can wait ’til I’m on my laptop using the (richer) web app.

On the web version, when I accept a link, I’m also offered the chance to message them, but here’s the trick: it’s not a message, it’s an InMail!  And, of course, those are limited. I don’t want to use my InMails on messaging someone I’m already linked to.  (I don’t use them in general, but that’s a separate issue.).  WHY can’t they go to messages like the app?  That’d be consistent, and this is a worse default than using messages.  I get that the app would have more limited functionality in return for being an app (there’re benefits, like notifications), but why would the full web version do things that are contrary to your interests and intentions?!?!

Good design says consistency is a good thing, generally; certainly aligning with user expectations and best interests. It’s bad design to do something that’s unnecessarily wasteful.  There are lots of such irritations: web forms that only tell you the expected format after you get it wrong instead of making it easy to point to the answer or give you a clue and sites with mismatched security (overly complex for unessential data or vice-versa) are just two examples.  This one, however, continues to be in my face regularly.

This inconsistency is instead a hobgoblin of a sensible mind. Has this irritated you, or what other silly designs bedevil you?

 

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