Mon, June 10, 2002

A better bugzilla

Sometime today, mozilla.org will update bugzilla to version 2.16. This version should have the greatly improved query page thanks to design work by Matthew Thomas. Among other changes, the most commonly used fields are now at the top of the form and submit buttons are conveniently placed at top and bottom. The submit button change allows you to once again complete the form by pressing Enter in Mozilla and IE. Accessibility for checkboxes and radio buttons is improved: you can click the text labels.

The query page changes provide tremendous usability improvements. But people are now used to the pain, and unbelievably want to keep the old query form. As mpt says:

“When something has an inefficient design, people get used to the inefficiency, and complain when it becomes efficient. As a result, more user preferences get added, making the interface worse.”

Myk Melez makes an interesting observation about the user impact of website redesigns:

It’s bad form to significantly change an interface to which users have grown accustomed without giving them time to switch to it. In the desktop software world, users can forego upgrades or run two versions of a program at the same time until they have the time to retrain themselves on the new version. Web software should provide a similar mechanism.

In this case, I believe the redesign is so much improved that everyone should just be forced to use it. But I understand the sentiment. I’ve noticed that many website redesigns are far worse in usability than the original.

It is terrific to see usability improving in bugzilla, even if it took more than 6 months for b.m.o to update. This gives me hope that Mozilla’s usability will also improve over time and probably with drastic changes when it does.