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Our team is working on a product which has a feature that allow users to upload their avatar and edit it. Originally, we would like it to be like google (you can edit the size & position of the editable rect). However, due to the time and cost, we are not able to accomplish that.

Now we are thinking of doing it in the Facebook way. Users can edit the image, but the front rect are fixed. From my limited observation, I found that both Facebook and LinkedIn put a slider down below for users to scale the image, instead of a quick middle mouse interaction. I was wondering is using middle button a bad UX approach for web? And should the web avoid other mouse interaction except the scrolling and clicking? Thanks.

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Requiring the use of the middle mouse button is a bad UX approach, yes, because:

  • Not everyone has a mouse with a middle button
  • Not everyone has a mouse (e.g. many laptops, all tablet users)
  • Not everyone with a mouse with a middle button uses it (or knows what its there for)

A slider serves as a visual cue that something can be scaled, as well. It's almost always a good idea to have these visual cues.

In general, mouse interactions beyond scrolling a clicking are abnormal. This abnormality could be useful if you're seeking to create a more memorable experience. For instance, on this "under construction" landing page, you can see that the mouse moving across the screen leaves a trail of brushstrokes. A lot of people spent a lot of time playing with this experience on this landing page, which was the intent. However, you might imagine similar interactivity between the mouse and a web application as distracting, perhaps confusing, visual noise -- because interactivity between the mouse and the site this way is so abnormal.

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They mostly use it for visibility and conciseness.

By implementing it with the scroll wheel, you'll need to tell the users that they can scale the image this way.

However, the slider puts this information into the world without having to add descriptive text.

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