by havoc

If you write an application or a dialog called “____________ Manager,”
be sure it’s called that because your software does the
managing. Imagine a bookshelf and a disorganized pile of books, and
you get to pick them up and alphabetize them yourself. In software
this would be called a “book manager.” In real life it’s called “my
house” and I never get around to the picking up, let alone the
alphabetizing …

I see lots of software feature lists and marketing materials with
these bullet points:

  • Manage your music
  • Manage your photos
  • Manage your account
  • Manage your plugins

If you must do this at least think of the feature as “organize.” That
provides some kind of design direction beyond “let people manually
move crap around.” But I might suggest that what your users really
want to do with music (for example) is listen to it, not manage it.

(The file manager and window manager are some of the oldest and worst
offenders, but no need to copy them in new designs. The web, at least
some PDAs, some cell phones, TiVo… lots of non-desktop software
avoids file and window management hell.)

(This post was originally found at

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