The UX of Blackberry Enterprise Server

By | July 10, 2007

I had never installed a blackberry (crackberry) server before and really hadn’t thought much about it. Apparently, it’s a pretty complex architecture. The software, which installs on the exchange server, has a zillion options.

From a UX standpoint, this thing is a disaster. I imagine this is because there are so many configuration options for the advanced enterprise users. However, they should have used some progressive disclosure techniques and some information architecture to organize the options. Additionally, they have the most convoluted names of their components. Everything is given the same weight and they use acronyms too liberally.

One of the things that really annoyed me is the use of 3 tabs stacked. This is a major no-no. It’s impossible for a user to navigate three layers of tabs that dynamically re-order themselves. Just put them on the left! Why do software makers think that stacking tabs is OK? It’s not. Bad!

This is bad when Microsoft Exchange does it and it’s bad when Blackberry does it.

Look at just one of the screens, although the amount of screens in this product are staggering.

Where is the user supposed to look? On the left in the tree? On the tab with the tabs? On the right with the accordion of tasks that doesn’t look right? This is truly horrible. They should focus their attention on the left. Make a stronger tree structure on the left and kill the tabs. The right side has way too many tasks. They have got to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of all real world uses exercise 20% of the functionality. They are putting entirely too much in front of me. Look at what happens if you right click.

How many items are you supposed to have in a menu? Not this many. Use 2 tiers if you have to, but this is ridiculous. This proliferation of choices is ruining their product. The bottom line is: I was not able to install the damn thing. I was unable to get it up and running. Additionally, I was unable to figure out what was wrong or see decent logging.

They need a “basic” mode where you only see what you need to get installed. They need transparency into the workings. They need better help, so that when I say, “I wonder what that means?” they can answer.

Overall, I give the product an F. I haven’t given an F to a product for UX since I tried to use the Cisco 501. ugh, it makes my spine shiver when I think of it.

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