Horrible User Stories Episode 01: What a Twist

I don’t hunt for Horrible User Stories, they just seem to find me. The subject for today’s episode played out like a bad plot twist in my text editor. Spoiler alert, this story isn’t a dream, it’s actually a nightmare.

Not only have I been trying to blog more, I’ve also been trying to keep a journal. I’ve been using an app called Penzu. It works great on the iPad and iPhone and I like the extra security features Penzu offers. It makes me feel a bit safer saving my content in the cloud knowing it’s encrypted. I decided to try Penzu’s web app to knock out my latest journal entry rather than type the whole thing with my thumbs on my phone. I quickly discovered this Horrible User Story:

As a user, I want my right click button to only show “Cut”, “Copy” & “Paste” when clicked

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Like a horrible plot twist my right click menu wasn’t the same. Was it abducted by aliens? Replaced by a robot? Or just maybe, right click menus never worked the way I thought they did and those memories were implanted in my head. Whatever trope you prefer to explain this horrible story is way more entertaining than the real reason… or is it?

Why is this a Horrible User Story?

  • Users expect right clicks to have a certain behavior, this changes what a user expects
  • Default features, such as spell check, should not be taken away from a user
  • Cut, Copy and Paste already exist! The time and effort put into adding this feature are a waste of time and effort

A Bad Plot Twist is a Bad Plot Twist

There are so many things wrong with overriding the right click menu. If you ever consider doing it, don’t! If you do, at the very least supplement existing features and don’t take anything away from a user. Don’t throw an unexpected plot twist at your user, no matter how clever you may think you are.

Spoiler Alert: Bad Plot Twists

Fight Club This plot twist is used over and over again. Yes, I know many people love this film. I happened to watch Fight Club right after watching another movie that used the same twist.
High Tension As a horror fan this is one of the best horror movies ever made. High Tension is so good that I’d recommend turning off the movie right after our heroine leaves the gas station. Trust me. The plot falls to pieces and ruins everything once you start to realize what the twist is.
Battlestar Galactica Everyone is a Cylone… Everyone! I just saved you four seasons, thank me later.