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Interface Hall of Shame

Lotus Notes - Reader Comments

Our discussion of the interface problems in Lotus Notes has generated a great deal of email. While we have received an occasional note from a Notes developer or long-time user of the product complaining about the review, the overwhelming amount of email has been from typical Notes users who welcomed the review. We've included some representative comments from a sampling of the letters we have received.

Last updated 28-July-1999

If you feel you are running out of material for the Interface Hall of Shame take a look at Lotus Notes,it will keep you occupied for years.

My office mate & I are surprised that Lotus Notes didn't win any honors in the Hall of Shame -- or were you afraid you couldn't afford that much disk space?

I can only assume that the lack of any of the "features" of Lotus Notes in your Hall of Shame is due to your never having used it...

One good candidate for the Interface Hall of Shame is Lotus Notes 4.6...the rest of interface is at best confusing (and I use computers for almost 10 years, and I'm a programmer)

Thank you for adding a special Lotus Notes section to your 'Hall of Shame'! I have been working with this application for more than a year now, but still haven't got used to it.

Even the Notes-specialists working at our company are regularly spending hours trying to find functionality they know exists, but is neither described in the Help-file nor found under the menu section under which they would expect it.

I found great pleasure in your page on Lotus Notes. I use this wretched product about 6 hours a day, so I'm all too familar with your Notes picks for the Hall of Shame. Here's some more... I could go on and on...

Thanks for the well done review. My company moved to Lotus Notes and I have lost functionality simply because I dread taking the time to ferret out the 'correct' keystrokes. Your review was so good that I actually learned how to do some new things in Lotus Notes and had a good chuckle at the same time.

As you continue to explore Notes keep in mind that the designers and developers did everything in their power to prove they're NOT Microsoft!

I'm currently reading your review of Lotus Notes with much smug satisfaction. I hate it too !! I've been using version 4.5 for that last few months and just can't get used to its ugly and confusing interface.

Kudos to you for your "Hall of Shame" especially the Lotus Notes page. Unfortunately, you've just scratched the surface when it comes to that application.

In the Hall of Shame about Lotus Notes you've forgot the OMINOUS help system...

I just read through your summary of Notes 4.6. Wow, I couldn't agree more. Every day is a new trial with that piece of S---, er, Software...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! You have captured everything (and then some) that frustrates me about Notes. Its amazing that this program is as popular as it is, perhaps because their is no real competition. I find it to be the most frustrating app I have ever used, and this is from someone with almost 2 decades of computer experience. Since we have NO training for anything out of MIS, users at my place are forced to muddle through on their own or buy their own books on how to use it. I've learned some useful tips from you that may help my work. Thanks again.

I was very glad to find the section reaming Lotus Notes. The first thing I worked on when I started this job a few months ago was the latest release of our product for Notes, and was...simply flabbergasted at how awful it was, especially for something that's supposed to be aimed at beginning to mid-level users. Dear lord...

I use (Notes) daily, and from time to time I find it one of the most infuriating programs that I have had to deal with.

If there is one product that I truly have a love-hate relationship with, it has to be Lotus Notes. As both a current full-time user and, in the past, a developer, I consider it to be the package with more potential than any other software product that I have ever worked with. Just happens to be the most frustrating environment as well.

I was quite glad you gave Lotus Notes a sound thrashing - from an interfacial point of view, it's one long collection of design sins.

My company recently swiched us from cc:mail to Lotus Notes. How the same company (Lotus Development Corp) could come with such an intuitively easy program like cc:Mail and such an obfuscated program like Notes was initially beyond my understanding. I finally have settled on a plausible explanation. Notes is Lotus' mechanism of revenge against all of those Lotus 1-2-3 users who switched to Excel.

I fully agree with your 'Hall of Shame - Notes' intro. I've been working with it for about 2 years, and there are just a few days I discovered nothing strange.

It's nice to read that more people don't like the user interface of Lotus Notes. I find that application the most user-unfriendly program I've ever encountered.

I would consider myself a very frequent and practiced computer user, however, I am quite certain that even now I do not use more than perhaps a quarter of Notes' functionality - simply because it is all so idiosyncratic that I never get to learn the rest (archive, to-do, calendar - I know it is there, I just don't have the time to work through how Notes' developers think I should see the world).

As a professional Lotus Notes administrator, I had a good hearty laugh at your site and the well known pains of using Notes.

You barely scratched the surface - There are dozens, even hundreds, of other things. I changed jobs a few weeks ago - one attraction of the new company was that they do NOT use Notes. I'll never forget my daily frustrations and anger with that miserable product.

I enjoyed immensely your Notes hall of shame. I find the user interface mistakes Windows in general annoying but Notes raises the bar in programmer arrogance.

Many thanks for your great page on Notes. We were forced to begin using this abomination at our company 5 months ago. Several of us honestly believe that Notes is still in alpha development, and was written by programmers with no knowledge of Windows standards.

If you're looking for a candidate for some sort of superlative of stupidity related to Slowtus notes, consider the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to migrate the entire Agency to Lotus StupidSuite (including word processing). Their basis for the decision: cost alone. No consideration of features, functionality, usability, compatibility, or common sense. "Re-training" of 18,000 employees alone will probably cost millions (negating any "savings"), not to mention the resultant drastic decrease in efficiency and effectiveness. A more insidious means to cripple the Agency couldn't have been cooked up by the most devious Republican congress.

The president of our university system decided everybody should be on Notes and so here we are (I don't tell him how to pick Deans, why does he think he needs to tell me how to pick software?). I suspect this decision has cost us millions in excess resources consumed and lost productivity.

Your review of Lotus Notes has mollified many of the users in my office who were told by our IT training people that "Yes it is different, but it's the best..." Until we discovered your site, we thought it was us that we're screwy.

When our parent company inflicted Notes on us about a year ago and took away all of our familiar email tools, a large part of the staff simply mutinied. One art director refused to use his company email account at all and insisted we send email to his personal address. Lotus Notes is NOT an email program. It might be good for something or another, but none of us ever figured out what it was. In the meantime, we couldn't do our work properly because the thing was so clumsy that sending and receiving email became a horrifying chore.

I just started using Lotus Notes 4.6 at my new job a month ago. Before using Lotus products, I always thought that they were supposed to be as good or better than Microsoft products, but that the powerful Microsoft monopoly was keeping them down. Now, I think they should be kept down. When I first started using Notes I was thinking "What is wrong with me? There must be an easy way to do this. Why can't I figure it out?". After a while, and especially after reading your web site I realized that there was nothing wrong with me and that not only was there not an easy way to do (pick whatever function you want and place it in this sentence here), but that in many cases there was No way to do it at all. Thanks to your web site I now have my self esteem returned and I have even picked up some very helpful tips on how to work with Notes.

I was particularly pleased to see you take Lotus to task for their incredibly poorly-designed Notes product. I had the misfortune of having to use this program while on assignment at a client site and was amazed at the exceedingly counter-intuitive design of virtually every aspect of the interface. It's amazing how such a piece of junkware can become so widely used despite itself.

If you think Lotus Notes on a PC is bad, you have to check it out on the Mac. Lotus Notes on the Mac is the WORST interface I have seen in years!!!

If you want to see some real user interface blunders, get yourself a copy of the Notes 5.0 beta!

Having had to use Notes for e-mail for a few weeks before I quit my last company, I can fully appreciate your criticisms. In the developers' defense, since Notes is supposed to run on various OS platforms, it is important that it suck equally on all of them.

Regarding the developer comments about Lotus being a cross-platform application -- I'm an experienced windows and unix user/developer, and have used notes both in Win95 and AIX. I have to say that they achieved their goal: Lotus Notes sucks on all platforms.

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