Jakob's Top 10 Movie UI Bloopers

My favourite usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, lists his top 10 movie UI mistakes:

  1. The Hero Can Immediately Use Any UI
  2. Time Travelers Can Use Current Designs
  3. The 3D UI
  4. Integration is Easy, Data Interoperates
  5. Access Denied / Access Granted
  6. Big Fonts
  7. Star Trek’s Talking Computer
  8. Remote Manipulators (Waldo Controls)
  9. You’ve Got Mail is Always Good News
  10. “This is Unix, It’s Easy”

As usual, I’ll have to agree with Jakob Nielsen. I’ve always gotten either a good laugh or cry from movie computer interfaces. While I understand the dramatic overstatement and readability screen graphics need, some of them are simply lame (Swordfish, anyone?). Jakob concludes that we should demand more realistic UI design in movies, otherwise your mom will think it’s her fault when she can’t immediately access a random UNIX system.

Responses to “Jakob's Top 10 Movie UI Bloopers”

  1. While I think the list is good (I especially like #10), I as usual don’t hold Jacob Nielsen in a particularly high regard.

    And it seems to be, that before we demand more realistic UI designs in movie, we should consider demanding better stories :)

  2. Joen says:

    I as usual don?t hold Jacob Nielsen in a particularly high regard.

    Ah, but I had a feeling this was the case. Not because your designs aren’t good, because they’re always crisp and great, but because of the same reasons everybody else seems to dislike him. He’s old and preaches rules that could’ve been written on stone tablets.

    Except of course, that’s not entirely true. I used to feel that way until I saw the light. Jakob is the light, He is love and peace, and His scripture speaks Truth.

    But seriously. The reason I stopped disliking JN was the simple fact that all his “rules” are merely guidelines based on research. It’s hard to argue with his stats. I recommend reading “Designing Web Usability – 50 websites deconstructed”, even today.

    And it seems to be, that before we demand more realistic UI designs in movie, we should consider demanding better stories :)

    Well spoken!

  3. Well, not that I feel this thread should be hijacked into a pro/con JN discussion (too late!), but I find it hard to take advice seriously from a man whose website looks like this.

    It’s a mess. And I’m not even thinking colors or typography or anything other than the fact that the simple task of ordering text in a manner optimal for consumption has failed. Design and usability aren’t mutually exclusive, which I of course don’t need to lecture you about :)

    PS: I get slashes in the comment preview when typing ” and ‘.

  4. Joen says:

    Well, not that I feel this thread should be hijacked into a pro/con JN discussion (too late!),

    Oh, don’t worry about it. I partook in the hijacking, plus I’ve hijacked enough threads on your site so it’s only fair.

    but I find it hard to take advice seriously from a man whose website looks like this.

    Indeed… “Be the change you want to see in the world”, and all that.

    Design and usability aren?t mutually exclusive, which I of course don?t need to lecture you about :)

    Oh very true… in fact I’d say a good design is defined by being a fusion of the two. I.e. a cork opener whose cork screw is screwed on itself so you can’t get the opened cork off the opener without unscrewing the cork screw is a bad design. I’m looking at you, IKEA! Wow, what a strange sentence.

    PS: I get slashes in the comment preview when typing ? and ?.

    Yeah, I don’t know why it’s started escaping things. I think it’s because I’m using an archaic Textile plugin…

  5. Vindberg, A. says:

    I.e. a cork opener whose cork screw is screwed on itself so you can?t get the opened cork off the opener without unscrewing the cork screw is a bad design

    I knew that this topic would contain some sort of laughable material, and boy was I correct! LOL

    Thank you.

  6. #6: Yes! Really small fonts! That way we really know what’s going on, cos we’ll need all the extra boring twat dialog!

    Brilliant!

    #1: How fun would the movie be if half of it was finding the damn manual & calling tech support?

  7. Joen says:

    #6: Yes! Really small fonts! That way we really know what?s going on, cos we?ll need all the extra boring twat dialog!

    #1: How fun would the movie be if half of it was finding the damn manual & calling tech support?

    Hmm well, as I’m educated in advertising, I do know that the message / story sometimes takes precedence over realism.

    However, don’t you think there can be a fusion of the two? A good story where people know what’s going on, without big blinking “ACCESS GRANTED” signs?

    In Matrix Reloaded, I remember there being quite the talk about Trinity using some special archaic computer system (that exists really really). Small fonts, sure, but they zoomed waaay in.

    Also, the fact that the hero can immediately use any UI, to me, communicates “bad scripting”. It should be possible to write around this. You don’t think twice when you see Han Solo pressing the right buttons of the Millennium Falcon, do you? That’s because we expect this super pilot to know what he’s doing.

  8. Hmm well, as I?m educated in advertising, I do know that the message / story sometimes takes precedence over realism.

    However, don?t you think there can be a fusion of the two? A good story where people know what?s going on, without big blinking ?ACCESS GRANTED? signs?

    Well yes, but the dialog always seems to boil down to “Ok, we’re in.” (If it’s the sexy sidechick) or “Ok, I’m in” (If it’s the Hero). Having stuff go green or “access granted” can, if done right, speed up the story. Of course, stuff usually goes green, “access granted” pops up everywhere and they STILL say “Ok, I’m in.”

    In Matrix Reloaded, I remember there being quite the talk about Trinity using some special archaic computer system (that exists really really). Small fonts, sure, but they zoomed waaay in.

    Also, the fact that the hero can immediately use any UI, to me, communicates ?bad scripting?. It should be possible to write around this.

    Producer: “No Al, keep it in, our Hero is like super smart!”

    Plus, in most stories it’d be quite hard to write around this.

    (Why do I feel like the devil’s advocate?)

    You don?t think twice when you see Han Solo pressing the right buttons of the Millennium Falcon, do you? That?s because we expect this super pilot to know what he?s doing.

    I don’t follow SciFi too much, but I do remember a whole episode of Stargate where they’re screwing around trying to operate a portal. Of course, it gets passed off as “translating” instead of understanding the crappy job the alien UI designer did ;)