Katelyn M. Thompson's Blog

Lack of Consistency in Photoshop CS4

Posted in Usability by kmtom on November 22, 2009

Although I have yet to have time to immerse myself in CS4, I ran across a post by Neven Mrgan showing the different slider bars found in Photoshop CS4.  Below are a sampling…

It is a general guideline, that a similar design be used when the user is performing the same or similar action. Usability.gov’s guideline states “Allow users to perform tasks in the same sequence and manner across similar conditions” (Guideline 2:3).

In the case of the sliders, it is unnecessary to have multiple designs for the same control. The first three sliders are all performing the same purpose, to allow the user to select a value from a range of numbers. They each show the title, the value, and the slider.

The 4th slider is slightly different and shows the blending of two layers, and therefore needs an additional slider control. There is little to no reason for there to be different arrows.

The only slider pictured here that I can make a justification for variation is the last one. The blending of the two colors along the slider is helpful in determining the desired color mix.

I’m unsure why all the inconsistency in the design of this great program. It seems as though they’ve kept sliders from previous versions and improved upon them as new features were included, but never took the time to update the old ones. Hopefully by the time the next version comes along they’ll have taken the time to not only include some amazing new features (content-aware scaling comes to mind) but also improve the ease of use of the system by sticking to some well-established guidelines.

via SwissMiss

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2 Responses

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  1. Andrew said, on November 23, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Good post. I think a lot of the inconsistency is because of different software teams working on different parts of the application. When I was at The MathWorks, the usability group identified the same problem with their products (e.g. MATLAB, Simulink). They categorized and posted different UI elements on the wall and allowed everyone in the company to comment with sticky notes.

    It would be interesting to also compare other programs in CS4 (e.g. Illustrator). I highly doubt Adobe has taken the time to ensure consistency with Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks, and I’m actually not convinced they should just yet( since most designers/developers are accustomed to both interfaces). But, within an application and within Adobe’s core group of applications (which I consider Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and InDesign), there is no excuse.

  2. SchnarchenBlog said, on December 8, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Waow loved reading this blogpost. I submitted your feed to my reader!

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