Interface Critique 1: Courses @ Brown

I was registering for courses when I found myself at this screen:

This was the offensive button:

I did want to drop one of my classes to register for another, but this button was scary! If I clicked on DROP COURSES/CHANGE OPTIONS, would all the courses that were checked be dropped? Or would it take me to a new screen where I could choose what to drop? It turns out it was the latter, but I didn’t find that out for a while because I was too afraid to accidentally drop all my courses and lose my spots.

The reason this was so unclear is because this interface places REGISTER CART, which does take the checked boxes above into account, right next to DROP COURSES, which apparently does not take the checked boxes into account. In fact, DROP COURSES is apparently completely unrelated to the box above it.

Why was this designed this way?

This line of three buttons are the only buttons on the screen, so it seems likely that the designer was simply working with the screen space they had, and trying to fit all the options in that space. It actually looks really nice and is easily readable. But by making this design choice, the designer traded off explicit understandability for simplicity.

This is also just an intermediate page in the process of registration, so the designer may not have put as much time into it. They also may have thought that students go through this process every semester, and would be familiar with this screen (though I’m a senior, and doing this twice a year apparently hasn’t made me any better at it).

Proposed design changes

I would make the button for DROP COURSES above the entire registration box to make it clear that it is not related to which courses you “check” off. If the user had that option before they selected any courses, it would make it much clearer that the selections are unrelated. The wording could also be improved, maybe something like “TO COURSE DROP PAGE” would make it clearer that pressing the button actually brings you to a completely new place. Styling it more clearly in a hyperlink-type format could make that clearer as well.

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