UX Design Principle: Functional Consistency
Today I tried to drag images into an Album in my Google Photos cloud storage. It didn’t work because a Functional Inconsistency and differences in mental models. It took me 2 minutes to understand what’s wrong, and another 2 hours to write a post about it. I love modern life.
Loosely defined, Functional Consistency is the principle according to which a mechanism in a product, or different parts of it, should act and respond to user actions in the same way across.
The problem is that whether a product or a part of it is similar to another part or not is much depended on the mental model of the user.
In Google Photos [GP], you can add photos to your cloud storage by dragging them to your browser. It’ll then ask you if you would like to add them to one of the ‘Albums’. BUT — if you drag photos directly to the album, it won’t act this way. The origin probably lies in the difference between how Google sees Albums and how I as a user see them: GP sees Albums as a way to group and show photos that are in the storage. This way a photo can be stored once, but shown both under ‘Design issues’ album, and under ‘Screen Captures’ album.
I perceive Google photos as storage. Much like the one on my computer only in a cloud. In my Mental Model:
- Google Storage = Hard Disk
- Google Photos = Folders
- Albums = Subfolders
Dissecting the situation
My intentions: save images I have on my HD to my GP.
- Ubiquitous accessibility — I will be able to find and use the images everywhere (yes, I am aware that this is the meaning of ubiquitous, and that all of you already know this:) )
- This time I’ll be organized with my images
- I have so many images already on my GP account, that it is on the way to become disorganized much like my photos folder on my computer.
- If I upload it to GP and only then move it to an Album, it will take me too long to locate the images.
I remember that GP taught me that I can drag images directly to the storage:
I take the following steps to complete my goal:
Go to ‘Design Issues’ Album in browser ->Go to Folder on my computer-> Drag to Album in browser ->Release images in browser ->Get disappointed.
Letting go of the mouse didn’t do anything. There was also no upload button.
So I decide to go to the main images page and there upload the images. I click cloud with arrow icon and it tells me this:
I decide to do just that and drag the images to the Album, like that:
After uploading the images it suggests that I immediately put it in my Albums:
If GP decided to support dragging to the browser as means to upload images, this needs to be supported everywhere. Especially if the result is the same: Having an image in an Album.
To fix this, GP needs to enable dragging into an Album. To let me know that it is saved to the cloud and can be used without using more space, they can say it while uploading.