Microsoft Outlook Web is an offense to design.

This past weekend, the school district in which I work switched from Novell Groupwise to Microsoft Outlook Web.

Groupwise was what I like to call “a labyrinth of insanity”. There were menus and tools and options and features and ugliness everywhere. But if you knew the steps required to accomplish a couple tasks, you could use Groupwise to read, compose, forward, and sort emails. And, if you watched someone search email, you could likely do it yourself.

Microsoft Outlook Web, however, is so poorly designed that my throat and tear ducts clench each time I use it. Not only does it feel Netscape-primitive*, but every button, line, function is an offense to design. Some buttons have rollover; some do not. Some rollovers work one way, others work another way. Some links have rollover; some do not. Some lines have drop shadows; some lines taper out to nothing at either end. Some buttons are blue, some are purple, some yellow, some grey. Some arrows curve (and taper), some are single carets, some are double-carets. Elements do not line up with other elements. Because it defaults to Internet Explorer (which is itself an affront to design), a full two inches of the screen are used up by menus—when using the minimum menus**. Why is there a “Find Someone” box and a “Search Entire Mailbox” box? Why does the “Find Someone” box not look like a text box until you click on it like a link? Why are there no visual dividers between some elements?

I must stop writing, or I will cry.

* Apparently, Outlook cannot suggest or complete addresses. (Except in the “Find Someone” box… which does not find emails by that person or start an email to them.) I have to manually type in each address or completely type each name into search before searching. My list of grievances grows with each use.

** It looks a little bit better in Chrome.



  1. A few years ago, I switched to gmail and love it now! In fact, I’m closing my hotmail and msn accounts! (I know what you mean 🙂

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