A problem with GMail

This is something I noticed in GMail a long time ago, thought about sending it to the developers, never found an email address and just forgot the whole thing. Today I saw the problem again and, instead of sending an email (to a place that I have no address), I will just post it here. :)

My gripe with GMail is the “More actions…” combo. Why? There is one fundamental flaw in the way it works: combos are selectors, not actuators. By that I mean that a combo is a widget used to select something, not to do something. Buttons are actuators (input boxes are data entries, but that’s not the case here).

One thing people doesn’t seem to get when building interfaces is what the selected widget represents. A button is an actuator, it do some action; input boxes/checkboxes/radio buttons/lists are entries, a way to the user add/edit data to be used; combos are selectors, they show options (and only do that). When people doesn’t get it, you have interfaces where combos act as actuators, input boxes that are actuators and some other things that aren’t neither of the above and try to act like something wasn’t designer for, like one table where you paint the background of the rows to make it look like a list — with the side-effect that you can’t control the selected row with your keyboard.

GMail is nice, but its interface is something bad written.