Can anyone at Microsoft (or anywhere else for that matter) please explain to me why when I happen to place my cursor on the right hand side of my 30” desktop monitor I have to be subjected to a swoopout with a few monochromatic and largely irrelevant Windows 8.1 icons, each the size of the lid of a Keurig coffee pod? Is this in case I’m actually across the room activating my desktop by waving my hands at a Kinect? Did I suddenly abandon my mouse and am working with a laser nose pointer? Am I just supposed to throw darts at it (and believe me I’ve been tempted)? Inconsistent and outright schizoid interfaces alienate customers, so don’t pull a Microsoft and do the same with your email, web, and app designs!

Too bad that I have to stab you

The “joys” of a desktop computer user living with Windows 8.1 Update can be compared to moving in with a terminal schizophrenic. “Hi Honey, did you have a hard day at work? Oh, sweetie… Too bad that now I have to stab you!” No sooner are you lulled into a false sense of security by the familiar Windows 7-ish desktop design that you do something inadvertent and are pulled into the Purple Hell of the Modern/Metro/Maniac interface. And, of course, the only way to turn off the yin and yang oscillation is to uninstall the entire OS and go back to Windows 7. Microsoft has managed to do all by itself what hundreds of millions of dollars of Apple ads never managed: Convince many of its steadfast PC customers to gladly spend double for the exactly the same RAM, SSDs, GPUs and the rest of the outlandishly overpriced hardware they can get at NewEgg or TigerDirect’s computer component section just so that they can get a consistent interface in OS X!

Don’t get outlandish… or Microsoftish

Whenever you’re designing your email, webpage, or app interface you would be well advised to learn the lessons which the multi-zillion dollar Redmond company apparently has failed to do. Don’t drive your customers away! You don’t have to be forced to adhere to the same old conventional nav bar position and button font if you don’t want to and you should be free to switch things up a bit, but when you get to the point where the entire “look and feel” of your online design changes depending on where the customer hovers, now you’re getting outlandish… or Microsoftish.

Buy, think about it, or delete

Although it may seem to you that your subscribers go to bed at night counting the minutes until they can wake up and receive your email, the truth is that you are just a single element in what is likely an overstuffed to burgeoning inbox and that customer is going to spend less time glancing over your email (even if they do open it) than they will stirring the sugar into their morning coffee. In that incredibly tiny amount of time, the customer needs to absorb your marketing missive and comprehend what you’re trying to tell them so that they can make a decision as to how to proceed: buy, think about it, or delete.

Obtuse & obtrusive interfaces

When you are effectively placing a huge barrier in front of your customers in the form of an obtuse and obtrusive interface you are not only doing them absolutely no favors but you’re shooting your own brand message in the foot, or even in the head. Your subscribers don’t want to learn how to interact with your brand, they just want to do so in the most seamless, simple, and straightforward manner. If you are playing interface and design tricks in your emails you might as well use: “Please Relegate To Junk Folder” as your subject line.

You can bet your bottom dollar that whatever your email or web designers present with broad smiles on their faces and exclaim is revolutionary is going to be considered as revoltingary by your customers. No, you don’t need to be boring, but you do need to be consistent, approachable, and consumer-friendly!