Some of the ways in which effects provide feedback to the user seem excessively disruptive, particularly when they rely on dialog boxes for feedback. Here’s an example:
Say I’m working on cleaning up a noisy audio file using the Click Removal effect, manually scrolling through the waveform, selecting sections of audio to clean up, and hitting Ctrl+r to apply the effect on each selection.
Whenever the audio I’ve selected doesn’t exceed the parameters I’ve selected for the effect, performing Click Removal will have no effect (no pun) on the audio. And each time that happens, I’m presented with this dialog:
…That is not an important enough message to interrupt my entire workflow with! Heck, when it comes to a “cleanup” effect like Click Removal, it’s not even a problem — if the effect has none, when applied to a section of audio, it just means that audio was already in good shape. There’s no problem there.
I’m not saying Audacity shouldn’t tell the user, when an effect doesn’t change the audio it’s applied to. But a dialog box doesn’t just tell the user — it forces them to stop all of their other activities and respond to the message (by clicking “OK” in the dialog), before they can get back to work. Interruptions like that are like speedbumps, every one threatens to ruin your concentration and derail your train of thought.
There has to be a less disruptive means of providing feedback to the user, in cases like that where the message doesn’t even necessarily represent any sort of problem, and certainly not a problem that warrants interrupting their work and forcing them to respond to it immediately. Possibilities include:
- A message in the status bar
- Some area of the interface turning red briefly, or flashing red a few times. (The selected waveform, perhaps, or the background of the current track.)
- A floating (but non-clickable) message that pops up over the selected waveform, and disappears when the selection is moved or the effect parameters are changed.
The commonality between all of those suggestions (which are far from exhaustive) is that they require no response from the user, and they don’t create any barriers to the user proceeding uninterrupted with whatever work they’re hoping to accomplish.
I’m singling out Click Removal here, but I’m sure it’s not the only example of an effect being too disruptive with its feedback. Dialog boxes are an ugly pattern in UX design, and overreliance on them is the enemy of productivity. They should be used very sparingly, and only after carefully considering whether the message being presented is important enough that it justifies forcing the user to stop whatever they’re doing, and switch gears in order to immediately read and respond to a message.