Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

I Hate Pop-Ups

The graphical user interfaces of every single operating system that I've ever used, including all versions of Windows and UNIX, always have the same problem. I am often working in a window, such as typing an email, and another window pops open on top of where I was typing and thus I immediately and unintentionally start typing in the new window.

For example, the software on my work computer is typically remotely upgraded without any notice or consent from me. Once in a while, a major change is installed that requires a reboot. So, if I am typing an email and a window pops up requesting to reboot my computer, I may hit the "enter" when thinking I am still in my email software; when in actually, I just okayed a request to immediately reboot my machine. Thus, I lose all unsaved work (including the email message that I was typing) and my precious time waiting for my machine to reboot.

Other times, I get pop-ups requesting permission to install or upgrade something or another, and I approve these changes within a split second without reading them. I may have installed a virus or spyware. I just do not know.

My final example is even worse. Sometimes I am typing in my login information, such as my login id and password for a webpage, and a pop-up window opens and I continue typing in my personal information without asterisks hiding my password. This is most annoying when my computer is connected to a projector for everyone to clearly see.

Fortunately, I know of a simple solution to fix this common issue. Basically, all operating systems could not allow new windows to open in the foreground if there is already a program in the foreground. Alternatively, all operating systems could not allow new windows to open in the foreground if an existing window was used in the last few seconds.

As you can see, this simple change would do wonders for the user interfaces of most GUI operating systems. This may also even reduce the click-thru rates with pop-up advertisements too. So, if you are designing a graphical user interface, please keep this simple request in mind. Thank you!

by Phil for Humanity
on 11/21/2008

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