Avira Premium Security Suite's Usability Issues: Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'other anti-virus software' started by jasonago, Oct 28, 2006.

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  1. jasonago

    jasonago Registered Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    Avira Premium Security Suite's Usability Issues: Pros and Cons

    This report talks about some usability issues about Avira Premium Security Suite RC1. Usability issues doesn't affect the performance of the program but rather it affects how the user interacts with the program. A program should be intuitive enough to use but offers a wide range of understandable options to play with. In this report we will talk about the good side and the not so good points of Avira's newest security suite when it comes to usability.

    I am not a "usability guru" in the first place but I do have some understanding about it and being a web programmer it is also our responsibility to make the web more usable. I also tried to analyze the program in the "novice point of view" where in most of our computer users have little knowledge about the technicalities of an antivirus, firewalls, security suites, etc. Expert people in the computer world may find some of my points here as irrelevant but as I said this is what a novice or a common PC user may come about, causing them dilemma.

    Usability Pros
    Here we will discuss some of the good points of Avira Premium Security Suite RC1 when it comes to usability. We give credit to the easeness of use, understandability, and intuitiveness of the program.

    Pros #1 - Status Panel gives an overview of all the modules
    When the user loads the program, the Status Panel comes right before other panels giving an overview and some options for the different modules like MailGuard and Firewall as well as the Update and License dates. This saves the user from going deeper in the panels just to look if the program is running properly. The icons also give a visual cue if the processess are running or not.

    Pros #2
    - Modules of the program are grouped into tabs
    This gives an intuitive access to the powerful modules and further infos of the program. It is also smarter that the tabs are arranged horizontally. Most of the security suites nowadays like Trend Micro PC-cillin, Kaspersky, and ZoneAlarm uses a vertical tabs arrangement. But remember that the human eye is more adapted for horizontal viewing. That is why Avira is more "eye friendly" when using the program.

    Pros #3 - Tabs/Panels are named with common terms
    Tabs such as Firewall and Quarantine are all named using their "true terminology". This is good especially if the user is migrating from another Security suite wherein this terms are also used. How many of you have used Avast! and suffer from its new Quarantine aka Virus Chest? Doesn't it a little vague?

    Pros #4 - Configuration is well organized
    The Configuration is organized according to modules and goes further into it with options that are understandable enough. We like that we can set an Expert mode for more configuration. This gives the users "the option" and the feel of "Im-in-control" of the program. The descriptions that appear in almost every option that you hover is very helpful because the user need not to open the help file for reading.

    Pros #5 - Help, I need Help!
    The Help link sits comfortably in Right upper part of every panel that you open which allows user to access the help file as easily and intuitively as possible. The Help files's content is also informative giving users a more in-depth understanding of the program. The F1 function key also do the works if you're to hurry to click.

    Pros #6 - Configuration and Help Links respond accordingly to the context of the page
    When your in the Firewall Panel, when you click Configuration or help link, the configuration will point to Firewall, and the same is true with the help file. Most of the programs only gives an "Edit Preferences" and a global Help link. Avira's intuitive response of the links adds usability points for that fact.

    Pros #7 - Avira's Configuration is integrated with the Control Panel
    Most of the user opens to Control Panel whenever they want to customize their computer. Avira's integration to Control Panel as well as to Windows Security Center allows the user to just point&click to the configuration. This also gives an impression that Avira's Security suite is well "fitted" for Windows and seems that Avira is really a part of the Windows modules.

    Pros #8 - Firewall Transfer Monitoring is great!
    The graphical chart of the Transfer Monitor gives the user the feel that the firewall is really working and monitoring the bandwidth. This is user psychology.

    Usability Cons
    The cons decreases the usability of the program and may also confuse the user and lead to wrong configurations or understanding.

    Cons #1 - Reduce/Enlarge Button is misnamed
    We often see this Reduce/Enlarge button in the Update and Firewall popups. When the user clicks the Reduce button, he really mean "Less details". The Enlarge button really means "More info or details". Although this is just a minor issue, still it adds to the usability decrease. The Reduce button should be renamed to "Less info" or "Less details" while the Enlarge button should be "More info" or "More Details".

    Cons #2 - Some Icon buttons are suggestive, some are not.
    Avira's image set is great. We like the Bin icon in every applicable option that means "Delete" and also the Magnifying glass (Scan) and the Printer image (Print). But some are a little unsuggestive especially those buttons in the Quarantine and Scheduler Panel. The user really need to hover first for the tooltip before he can realize its purpose. The only solutions to this are: Change the image button OR put text description at the bottom. But for aesthetic sake, we can leave this thing and live with it.

    Cons #3
    - Tray Icon sometimes disappear
    This is somewhat a Bug issue that whenever explorer.exe terminates itself because of unexpected problems, the Umbrella icon in the taskbar doesn't appear again. When a user encounters this, he may think that Avira was not running and his computer is unsecure. It may take a seconds or even minutes before he can figure out to open Avira from Start->Programs Menu or to check Avira's programs in the TaskManager. This really decreases the usability of the program and needs immediate attention from the Avira's programmers.

    Cons #4
    - Reports and Events Panel? Who logs best?
    I'm always confused about these two panel. In previous programs of Avira, only the Reports panel is present handling all the logs that the program makes. Now we have Event Panel which monitors all the events that the program encounters. The Report panel only displays Update and Scan events while the Event panel displays everything. I performed a File scan and both of them offered an intuitive information which is almost parallel with each other. Can we just remove the Report panel and allow Events Panel to handle the rest so as not to confuse the users?

    Cons #5 - Updater is sometimes annoying.
    The only annoying part about the updater is that it popups in the right uppermost part of the screen. There are times that you accidentally close the Updater because you intend to close the the other program while here comes the Updater in front. It is more appropriate if we popup the Updater at the right lower part of the screen or at the middle. Or it is much better if we can have an option for "Hide updater while updating" in the Configuration.

    Cons #6 - Tray Icon Option doesn't offer activation/deactivation for other modules
    Although we like the Firewall and the MailGuard to run almost every time, still it is better if we have a provision for stopping (or starting) them by just using the Tray icon, just like the Antivir Guard. This saves the user and the pc from starting another program just to activate/deactivate modules.

    Cons #7 - Luke Filewalker doesn't display all detected viruses at first glance
    Although some may like the nature of simplicity of Luke Filewalker, still some may want to browse over the files and the viruses caught while scanning. It is better if a scrollable list shows the filename, virus name, and the action that have been taken while scanning.

    Cons #8 - Configuration options can't be exported and save for backup and other purposes.
    Some users may also install Avira on other PCs and some may even manage a whole computer system (like school and universities). It is a painstaking process to configure Avira one by one. Practical approach is to create a harddisk image of a configured computer and copy it to all computers but the problem lies when there is already a substantial data into those computers. Although we can copy the \Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Avira Premium Security Suite to all the computers, still it is more practical to save the configuration in a one file exportable format.

    The simplicity of layout of all the Avira's panels and options gives it the intuitive touch and the easeness of use. It is good that Avira sticked to the basics (using tabs, expandable trees, etc) when they designed the program interface because it doesn't alienate users from using the program. Remember how confusing Kaspersky's interface is because of its unpredictable links (all words can be clicked and you are unsure what window will popup!) and also Trend Micro Pc-cillin's confusing tab categories (Where is the firewall?, Anti-spam?) which makes users think first for awhile before using and may lead to wrong click.

    On the other hand, Avira still has some gripes that needs to be attended. Although they are just minor issues, still solving them adds up to overall usability and professionalism of the program.
  2. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

    Jun 22, 2006

    nice review i definatly agree about the icon disapearing from the taskbar when explorer crashes if i can remember correctly norton 2003 had that problem with at least the 2003 version and at the time i didnt really know what i was doing so i reset the pc to be safe.
  3. FRug

    FRug Registered Member

    Feb 7, 2006
    Nice summary, however i disagree at least with the following 3 points:
    You can configure it to update in the background via the scheduler.

    A full report can be shown at the end of the scan, including all detections and actions.

    They are all in an ini file which you can simply copy. However for such environments, it is probably better to use their enterprise management console.
  4. jasonago

    jasonago Registered Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    Ow, I see, the update can be set to invisible or minimize...that's good but another usability issue arises from this: The update option in the Configuration panel doesn't include other options for the updater. And also the ability to edit jobs in the scheduler is not that obvious because maybe the icon buttons are not that suggestive (as I said before).

    Well it is good that we organize certain task in the scheduler and that a wizard style interface guides the user, still it took me 2 months to figure it out that "that can be done in the scheduler". Thanks for telling me that...

    Anyways so much for the usability issues...We should now celebrate that Avira is on the market and that its getting topnotch places in various testing firms...
  5. pilotart

    pilotart Registered Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    It should be mentioned that it is best to just uncheck the default job in Scheduler and create 'new job/s' with the options you desire.

    Removing or editing 'Default Jobs' can cause you to have un-necessary problems. :(

    You can create as many 'new jobs' as you want, just remember to finish with a check in the box for them to run.

    Schedule Changes will be enabled only after a restart of AntiVir, either from an Update or re-boot.
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