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Is There Such a Thing as "Too User Friendly"?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the that-depends-on-the-user dept.

Technology 680

rtphokie asks: "The story about the TiVo get-together along with some recent trials and tribulations rolling out a knowledge base along with the time I've spent recently helping my 80 year old grandfather with this VCR and TV has gotten me thinking about user interfaces and the elusive "user-friendly" label. When someone who thinks of themselves as 'non computer savvy' works with a gadget like TiVo and compains that it's 'too complicated', how should we react? Why are users immediately forgiven for not even taking the least amount of effort to look for a solution to their confusion in the manual. The tendency has always been to blame the interface and ultimately the engineers who designed it but isn't there a point where users have got to share some of the blame? Why do today's software and consumer electronics users expect to be able to fire up their new toy and magically have a complete understanding of how to use it?"

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680 comments

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830195)

I haven't even read the title yet - just trying to get the first post...

Re:First Post (2, Interesting)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830275)

A.. panic over. I'm sure I'll get modded down though.

User friendliness is a bit too subjective a term - it varies so much between users. One of the problems with a lot of modern technology is that people want so many features that extra buttons have to be added in, and extra steps - a large percentage of people never use these. I only use 4 buttons of around 30 on my DVD remote. If we took these off then we'd only have "Play", "Pause", "Stop", "scan" and "FW/ Rewind" (although I had to use "subtitle" for Crouching Tiger...), and then the techies would complain. A lot of it's about having something for everyone, and showing off all their "cool" features, but for the less tech-savvy this extra level of complexity just makes things unusable.

This coupled with the fact that a lot of the manuals are in poorly translated Korean (No joke) can make things intimidating for people - but most users are now more tech savvy. Home computers, VCRs (DVDs) et al have only been around for the last 20-30 years or so - is it any surprise that those outside the generation that grew up with them find them a little daunting?

The user-friendliness will change with the same controls / appliances over the next 50 years as the 'older generation' changes to the relatively 'tech-savvy'

The Happy Happy Joy Joy song (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830316)

Hello boys and girls.
This is your old pal, Stinky Wizzelteets.
This is a song about a whale.
NO!! This is a song about being happy!
That's right, it's the Happy Happy Joy Joy song!

Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!

I don't think you're happy enough.
That's right, I'll teach you to be happy!
I'll teach your grandmother to suck eggs!
Now boys and girls, lets try it again.

Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!

If'n you ain't the gran-daddy of all liars!!
Mmmm...the little critters of nature.
They don't know that they're ugly.
That's very funny, a fly marrying a bumblebee.
I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me!!
Why didn't you believe me!!!

Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!!!

Learning curve (2, Insightful)

SpatchMonkey (300000) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830206)

The objective is to get a learning curve that isn't too steep, while still allowing complicated tasks to be done.

This usually takes the form of a division into 'simple' and 'advanced' modes of operation. This is probably too niave an approach though.

Mute topic (1)

dustinc20 (573679) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830207)

where are you getting your examples? your 80 yr. old grandfather? that doesnt represent the majority, almost all people age 1-30 now a days can operate more technical devices than their parents.

Re:Mute topic (0, Troll)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830269)

If your VCR is flashing 12:00, you shouldn't touch a Tivo, or a computer. If there were stupid asylums, we would lock up anyone with a VCR flashing 12:00. As for Grandpa, why does he need these newfangled things anyway. He'll probably be happier without them. Don't complicate his life with a Tivo.

Re:Mute topic (1)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830292)

I'll have to be honest - my VCR is flashing 12:00. Damn thing keeps resetting everytime my girlfriend unplugs it to hoover (vacuum for those in the USA).

I've started taking a sort of pride in that 12:00 now. But then, I don't wear a watch.

Re:Mute topic QWZX (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830284)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

The word is MOOT you fucking idiot. MOOT MOOT MOOT MOOT

A "mute topic" is a topic that doesn't speak.

I had a partner that used to say that ALL THE FUCKING TIME "well, that's a mute point". I would especially cringe when he would say it to a customer.

Sheesh, are people that fucking ignorant and retarded???

Re:Mute topic QWZX (1, Offtopic)

dustinc20 (573679) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830349)

I love people who are anal about spelling and grammar. heaven forbid people discuss the topic on the board

Important news (-1)

jamiemccarthy on (561405) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830210)

XX----XXXXXXXX
XX----XXXXXXXX
XX----XX------
XX----XX------
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
------XX----XX
------XX----XX
XXXXXXXX----XX
XXXXXXXX----XX
# Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic.
# Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.
# Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
# Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
# Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

Simple (1)

abouttime (542316) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830211)

The reason is that people are naturaly inclined to take the path of least effort, in this case its blameing some unknown third party.

Re:Simple (1)

SpatchMonkey (300000) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830224)

  • The reason is that people are naturaly inclined to take the path of least effort, in this case its blameing some unknown third party.
Probably more usually out of frustration than laziness though.

In my experience, (1)

Paraplegic Vigilante (590364) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830212)

User friendly with complex machines is subjective and relative. What I call a nicely-designed interface may be horrible for someone else. Everyone has different tastes in computers and electronics especially.

Why User-Friendliness is So Important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830213)

It's all about sales.

1) Most users are stupid.
2) If a product caters to Stupid Users, the odds are good that it will sell more units.
3) If the product sells more units, the vendor gets rich.

It's that simple.

RTFM (3, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830217)

There is a reason this acronym exists. I stand by it. ;)

Seriously tho, the answer is yes. Yes, the more complex something is, and thats where everything is going (wait till we can tinker on the nuclear generator powering our house from some closet), we need to learn more and more to be saavy with the stuff.

Re:RTFM (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830320)

I dunno.. I mean we have watches and clocks that set themselves via a radio signal broadcasted out of a mountain. To record a TV show you want, you move a pointed until the name is yellow and hit the red button- you dont have to know the times, or stations. Cars have computers in them, but they tell you when they need to be fixed. They can tell you what street you're on. It's getting harder to get lost.

as a technology gets more commonplace, it all gets easier. The first guy who used the Internet- eh, ok it was the Internet until he found the second smartest guy on earth and hacked his computer. From then on, it's been easier and easier to get online. Now my grandma gets online and snipes other grandmas on eBay. "I 0wned that l1mp b1zcuit, d33ry!" "Ok grandma, just dont get me flood pinged again" "Oh I wont, I'm sp00fing. 3h, wh3r3 4r3 my d3ntur35!!" Ok, maybe that last example is a little overboard. But my point is that as tech moves forward, it gets easier to use. There's examples in the other direction, but the people who can use it get smaller and smaller, and that doesnt seem like the "way that it normally is". You know, like ubergeeks that have electron microscopes and the original handicams that can see underwear.

Manuals are sometimes the problem (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830354)

On the one hand, people need to try harder. My grandmother was scared of her VCR until we got her to read the manual (a good manual for a change). After that she was able to tape her favorite shows on the thing while she was out. She's the Lithmus test for technology, if she can, anyone can.

On the other hand, some manuals are written so poorly that even techies have a hard time understanding it. Mostly it is not bad translation but bad penmanship, and most manuals are simply too long and complicated. Isn't it sad that the manual for using a particular baby carriage is three times as long as the manual that comes with an Uzi? Manuals need to be short, mostly, and they can be. The manual that came with my washing machine was just a double sided page with installation instructions, and another page on how to use it. Simple and succinct, even if a single separate page looks a bit... well.. amateurish.

Oh on the matter of translations: a good example is the thing that came with my VCR. Sure it is nice to receive a manual in 10 languages, but at 250 pages the thing scares most people off by its sheer volume alone. The thing just screams "don't read me!"

Not in the literal sense (2)

X (1235) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830219)

"Too user friendly" is probably only a problem for security systems. For most other systems, part of being user friendly is giving the user as much power/capability as they would use.

The user friendliness game is really a comparitive one. How easy is it for the user to accomplish X compared to another system. As such, the forefront of user friendliness is always changing. Still, it is sad that most systems can't even outperform having a geek standing beside you who answers questions like, "how do I do this?"

Customers are stupid (1)

evil_qwerty (581644) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830222)

>Why do today's software and consumer electronics users expect to be able to fire up their new toy and magically have a complete understanding of how to use it?"

You obviously dont work with customers :) EVERY SINGLE ONE IS STUPID. At least the ones that call me are.

yes, no thanks to marketing (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830223)

i have a customer hell bent on moving to windows/office xp so he can use the 'new, must have' features they offer ... for example, being able to do speech-to-powerpoint stuff.

i could blame it on ms, or the 4000 ms-centric mags out there hyping it, not sure. i've tried to tell him the setup he has now works perfectly fine, but, he wants to switch. after all he *needs* this extra fluff.

at least he knows i charge extra for supporting xp.

How user friendly is a car? (3, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830225)

I mean people still crash for no obvious reason, right? How user friendly is a refrigerator or a power drill? How user friendly is your girlfriend?

Re:How user friendly is a car? (1)

whiteranger99x (235024) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830283)

well, im willing to believe some people actually think "crusie control" means that the car will automatically take them wherever they want to go. ;)

Re:How user friendly is a car? (4, Funny)

Jack Porter (310054) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830298)

You mean I clicked the "1 reply beneath your current threshold" link, and I didn't even get a funny comment about the poster's girlfriend?!

Re:How user friendly is a car? (1)

Purificator (462832) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830326)

the thing with a car is that, having learned to drive a car, i remain able to drive the next generation car and the car after that. ok, maybe i have to read the manual to figure out how the gps works, but it's no great struggle to turn it on and drive it somewhere. this is true for my fridge as well.

with electronics, different manufacturers often have completely different interfaces for the same device, and it changes with each generation. setting the clock on the vcr my parents had in 1985 is completely different than setting the clock on the one i have. after a while people get sick of learning a new way of doing something every time they have to trade in their newly obsolete product for the next product that will be obsolete in two years. i guess this means any unstable or inconsistent interface is what's truely non user-friendly.

i've stopped setting the clock on my vcr. frankly, if i want to know the time i check my computer. it can sync with an ntp server.

Obviously (1)

Photar (5491) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830229)

Obviously Macintoshes and Windows are too easy to use , thats why we use *nix.

Why shouldn't we stive for better UI (1)

OhYeah! (445727) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830231)

My basic theory of UI is that if it's the person's job to do something, then you can expect them to "RTFM". But if they're doing it for recreation, you should expect them to want to put in the minimal effort possible. As far as the Tivo goes, I can imagine one in the not too distant future that responds easily to voice commands. For a consumer product, that level of simplicity is what we as designers/engineers should strive for.

Re:Why shouldn't we st[r]ive for better UI (1)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830330)

I've never bought into the whole speech control thing. I'd feel stupid in a room with other people talking to the VCR. It sounds silly enough when people tell their cellphone "Jim... no, Jim, Jim..fuck.."

What we need is Minority Report style controlling, or something that listens to ambient conversation (sort of pseudo-AI, or even better real AI) and decides to play the damn movie when the people in the room agree to, talking amongst themselves, without directing anything at the DVD/TiVo/whatever itself.

I broke my computer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830232)

I feel that a large majority of the time it is mostly the user's fault, and I speek from personal experience. My father often asks me to help him use his computer. He called me down once saying he installed new software and he think it broke his computer because an error showed up he had never seen before after he restarted, I go down and read it... it says something to the effect of "Thank you for installing " with the one button "Ok". He didn't even bother to read it, he instantly assumed things were more complicated than they should be.

Re:I broke my computer (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830280)

ThIS IS BECAUSE YOUR FATHER IS STUPID AND STUPIDITY IS CONGENITAL.

whoo whoo whoo lameness! i like goats! zang!

graveyards* Please try to keep posts on topic.
* Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.
* Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
* Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
* Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

Where have all the flowers gone? (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830233)

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time away
Where have all the flowers gone?
Youg girls picked them every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time away
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone and married every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time away
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone to soldiers every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time away
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time away
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

You seem hostile... (2, Interesting)

IronTek (153138) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830234)

You seem quite a bit hotile to the everyday stupid, lazy person! Let me guess, you majored in Human-Computer Interaction?! :-)

Seriously though, I can't say I blame you...we are too lazy to read a manual...or possibly just to prideful. At the same time, I remember a Slashdot article a few weeks ago about manuals in other countries and how users there actually read them...

So while I understand your point, I think a truly good interface needs no manual. At the same time, I also believe that the possibility exists that such a thing isn't possible.

People designing the interface just have to face facts that they can't please everyone...and I think we'd all be better off if people would stop buying devices they have no intention of taking the time to learn...I mean, it's great that we live in a country where you can buy anything you want...just don't bitch when you're too lazy to learn how to use it properly...

"Is There Such a Thing as "Too User Friendly"?" (5, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830237)

Never. The simpler something is to use, the better.

Don't confuse simple to use with basic - just because something is easy to operate it doesn't mean that it's incapable of doing some complicated things.

Many examples spring to mind but the telephone is top of my list. With my phone I can call half way around the world in just a few seconds - heck, even my two year-old nephew can.

Re:"Is There Such a Thing as "Too User Friendly"?" (1)

azpenguin (589022) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830309)

Some people aren't going to learn how to use things, no matter how easy you make it. I was repeatedly called to help my wife's grandmother do very simple things with her computer, because she simply wouldn't remember, even after writing things down. I've also been going through the same thing with my grandfather. I built him a computer to replace his old Packard Bell that literally went up in smoke. It had been running Windows 3.1, and he would occasionally get online to check his stocks. He couldn't remember how to use his email. The new computer has 98 on it (and yes, M$ sucks, but it's what we had handy) and I set it up with a desktop icon that says "Click here to use the internet." I've written down step-by-step instructions in simple from for everything. And I still have to show him how to connect every time I'm over there. This is a guy who is, even in his mid-70's, pretty mentally sharp. It just seems certain folks can't make the leap into computers. (He's buying a new cordless phone - digital answering machine - caller ID unit today. I'm sure I'll be there tomorrow.) And the rest of us pay the price when software companies keep dumbing down apps and make the old manual way of doing things impossible to get around to. All reasons I'm headed in the open source direction...

Re:"Is There Such a Thing as "Too User Friendly"?" (1)

david94133 (461088) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830318)

But, but --

A telephone's user interface is simple compared to a TiVo. With a telephone, all the user needs to input is a number to locate the other party. A TiVo has a databse built in, with random access to media.

The complexity of the system is not the same as the complexity of the user interface.

Are you really suggesting that the ultimate TiVo user interface would only require the user to input a nine digit number now and then?

Comparing a computer's user interface to a telephone is like comparing a stop sign and the New York Times for legibility.

Re:"Is There Such a Thing as "Too User Friendly"?" (5, Funny)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830321)

Ba, phones are too complicated.

First you have to sign up for a local carier, then you have to sign up for a long distance carrier. Then you get called four times a day as various phone companies try to get you to switch or sign up for extra features.

Then you have to remember all these strange and bizarrely complicated numbers. 10-10-811-Charlie-Tango-Niner, 1-800-Collect, dialing 1 for long distance, dialing 8 to get an outside line, etc. When I think of my good friend Ben, the first thing to pop to mind isn't an arbitrary ten digit number. Using numbers for phones is no better than listing your website by ip address sans domain.

And all that's without getting into the kinds of things people are starting to use phones for... instant messaging, checking email, listening to mp3s, things the device's interface is piss poor at dealing with.

Too User Friendly? (2, Offtopic)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830239)

No, but there is a such thing as too much User Friendly [userfriendly.org] . How many hours have I wasted reading cartoons that 1% of the population would even understand, much less think amusing....

Re:Too User Friendly? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830295)

I understand them perfectly, and they are just lame. I can only assume that it's people who don't understand them that think they are amusing.

The Windows way... (4, Insightful)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830240)

...is to just "Wizard" every action the user may need to take. By trying to anticipate what the user wants, a wizard can be provided to allow the user to quickly, and easily, complete their task. Of course, then you end up with a wizard so large and complex that it becomes an OS in itself, and one needs to read the help files associated with each option to successfully progress thorough the wizard's heirarchical structure (refer to Windows XP's default settings for the control panel). You have to know what each option does before you can click it. So eventually, when wizards rule the lands, there will be a manual for the wizards! And, as a "computer guy" I can still say "RTFM!"

Re:The Windows way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830300)

Or in other words, "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger."

3 words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830245)

Checkpoint Firewall 1 ...without getting into the whole "My firewall is better than yours" thing, Checkpoint has some nice features, but THAT GUI has probably done more damage than anything else on the net.

I agree completely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830247)

I work in tech support. (pause for groan) It never ceases to amaze me. People shell out $2500+ for these new systems, then promptly toss the manual in the fireplace. I blame the advertising, really - "So easy to use, no wonder it's number one," to cite one particularly aggregious example. Computers are NOT simple, and they will never be simplified past a certain level of complexity. (not, at least, without locking down the "box" completely and not letting anyone mod anything) Common sense alone should dictate that if you spend thousands of dollars on something, you read the manual to learn how to not make it blow up. Yet, the public seems to be lacking even this level of intelligence. No wonder they can't work their computers.

The Ultimate usable interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830255)

...is the one that reads my mind and does what I want before I know what it is...

There is a cut-off point (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830257)

I think there is a cut-off point for designers of User Interfaces. I just happen to believe that - in North American at least - the tendency of the larger (aka more financially liable) companies is to mark the cut-off point with an offer of a dumbed-down interface (that, perhaps to some is not "dubed-down", but downright handy). I feel that if UI designers offer an advanced "skin" for us power-users and a Fisher Price "skin" for the beginners, that's certainly fine with me.

It's the matter of choice that I appreciate.

Catch 22 (1)

slaad (589282) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830258)

The user interface should be easy enough to use that it doesn't require the user to consult the manual to get basic functionality out of the product at the very least. There is a tendancy to blame engineers for products not being user friendly because they are notorious for doing increadibly stupid things (the kind of thing that they could improve upon if only they had actually used the product they designed for about 10 minutes). If a product is designed well, the real problem that comes into play is the fact that the same people who are too stupid to work with the product a little bit and feel their way through and figure out how to use it are the people who expect to work right for them without putting forth any effort. The design can always be improved upon, but there will always be people who will have trouble with it.

RTFM (3, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830261)

I'm sorry I have to say this but often reading the manual helps. Unfortunately the quality of the manuals has gone down in the years because the "interface is so userfriendly". I recall my first cellphone: a full 200page manual. I read it, I understood it and now I practically know how GSM works ;-) Okay, this is not for everyone....I recon, but consider this. Two years ago, my 5 year old cellphone was due for replacement (unable to get new batteries), and I bought a new one...with a manual of barely 20 pages. I felt as if nothing was explained.

Honestly, if I don't figure it out by meddeling with the interface I just love to get the full-featured manual and read it and follow instructions. For me it has worked with numerous VCR's and other appliances. Unfortunately, *reading* is something even 80 year old grandfathers don't do anymore because technology is supposed to be intuitive. :-(
Call me oldschool...I'm sorry...

User friendly is ok, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830262)

I don't care if software is made to be user friendly, but never at the expense of functionality. There are those of us who don't mind doing things the "hard" way, because a lot of the time it's A) a lot faster and B) you have more control over the process.

I refuse to use a piece of software that treats me like a ten year old, just like someone else might refuse to use a piece of software that expects them to actually know something about what they're doing. It would benefit software makers to outfit their applications with multiple interfaces -- one with all the "helpers" and "wizards" etc., and one for the rest of us. I'm aware that they have been doing this for a while, but it seems as though nowadays software makers are slowly but surely dumbing down their interfaces to make their software appeal to Joe Average. I don't really mind, provided they give users the option to turn off "Dumbass Mode".

cause it's filling a demand. (2)

Romancer (19668) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830263)

It needs to fill a demand, so it should be intuitive to use in fulfilling the need.

I need to be able to look where it should be and find the answer. If I haven't read the manual I should still be able to navigate the menus and submenus to find the function that I want.

All good products are intuitively easy to use.
User friendly is not having three shortcuts to do the same thing, but having one really obvious and intuitively placed shortcut. Menu structure, and Icon placement and pictures are key to easy use.

My theory (1, Troll)

cow_licker (172474) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830264)

Do you know how your car works? Your fridge? The plane you fly on? Your phone? I program, so I consider my self technically savy, but I definitely have no idea (well I know the rough basics) and truthfully, I don't really care. I just want them to work. If I had to know the intimate details of every tool I used I wouldn't be able to get anything done.

This reminds me of certain responses from OSS programmers when told that grandpa can't use linux, 'He should learn how to use it' they say. Well he can build a house, live in the woods for years on his own. It's not like he's stupid. He just shouldn't be expected recompile his kernel or anything. Computers should be intuitive and operating systems transparent.

just my two cents.

Intuitive interfaces (5, Funny)

evenprime (324363) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830266)

The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
Bruce Ediger, in comp.os.linux.misc, on X interfaces

Re:Intuitive interfaces (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830334)

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time away
Where have all the flowers gone?
Youg girls picked them every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time away
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone and married every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time away
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone to soldiers every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time away
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time away
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

-- Pete Seeger

Stoopid Users... (1)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830267)

I am glad someone else is finally raising this question. I think that users do become used to the done-for-you paradigm that Windows and GUI's have pushed on society. It trains people to turn off thier brains when they sit in front of a computer. That is a bad thing for the progress and evolution of computing in general. The easier and more idiot-proof developers are forced to make thier applications, the slower the general technology advances in general. That is not to say that some areas of computing do not advace at a rapid rate. They just don't involve wide bases of end users as a general rule.

As a web page developer for the past 5 years, I have gotten a little tired of catering to the ADD attitude that so many web surfers have. It is frustrating to have to dumb down an application just becuase more than 4 sentances cannot be written on it's usage.

God save the CLI and other clunky, complicated interfaces that force people to think about what they are doing before they do it. I would like to see the "monkey wanna bannana" user attitude fall to the wayside in another 10 years or so.

Maybe this will happen as technology advaces and becomes more necessary to live our daily lives. I think it will. Just think about how much more talented your average 15 yearold H4X0R than you when you were 15.

Murphy's Law (1)

nfk (570056) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830276)

"Make something that even fools can use and only fools will want to use it." "It's impossible to make something fool proof because fools are utterly ingenious."

Pardon? (1)

Knoxvill3 (578169) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830277)

"Why are users immediately forgiven for not even taking the least amount of effort to look for a solution to their confusion in the manual."

Pardon me? I don't know about other fields, but here in the computer field, more so admin and support areas, we aren't inclined to admit we know what 'Forgive' means. I mean, if the above is true, does this mean I work in the last dept on earth that signs the occasional support reply w/ "RTFM" or "Ticket # ID10T" ????

Say it ain't so!

users (5, Informative)

Patrick13 (223909) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830279)

with all respect to your G'father, he has probably not operated enough electronic items to learn the "language" of electronic gadgets. The more he operates, the more likely he would intuitively understand how to use something.

This idea is discussed in Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things [amazon.com] , which is a great book for UI people.

Also, I have never seen the Tivo's UI, so it could be poorly designed... ;)

Re:users (1)

rtsaito (222902) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830304)

Indeed ! The book "Design of The Everyday Things" is a must read for every programmer too!

This is my favorite complaint (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830282)

Yeah, I just love that sort of thing too.

The only thing worse are the "graphic artists" that come into a shop and are re-labeled "experts" at GUI design. Just because you know how to draw a button doesn't mean you know where it goes.

I've lived through that twice on two different projects, and I'll tell ya, but of those people's designs just sucked.

Some Linux Distros are too user friendly. (1)

AmateurCoder (574449) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830285)

It seems that there is always a trade off between user friendly and user choice. The more options you give your users the harder time novice users will have making a decision.

I find that some of the Linux distros have nice gui configuration tools but have unusually complicated .conf files which makes them more difficult to remotely administer.

This is probably why so many serious linux people are moving back to simple systems like slackware or gentoo.

A single point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830286)

"a point where users have got to share some of the blame"

Insert your religious word of affirmation here.

God created manuals to train the faithful. One cannot go against the word of God. -- The Coder Muad'dib, upon defeating the Padishah Emperor Gates.

Do you read the rules of the road before driving? Do you read the instructions on your medicine? Read through the booklet that came with your power tools?

If not, good for you. You're doing the world a favor by eliminating your genetic strain. :)

If so, why not for other things, such as computers, VCRs, et cetera? What, is reading 'so hard' and painful? Oh, I know what it is - you must have such a busy life that you can't read through the simplest of install documentation, yet you can spend six hours fragging people in Quake 3?

I refuse to talk to anyone who bugs me to 'fix this' or 'fix that' if they haven't at least made an attempt to research the problem for themselves. Sure, I'm losing some spare change and/or a free beer or two, but I'd rather see people I know *learn* something. :P

Turn on computer && turn off brain (1)

sPaKr (116314) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830289)

Why do does seem that even educated people stop thinking when they sit infront of a computer? I have seen doctors, engineers, teachers, and lawyers sit infront of a computer and just stop thinking completely. As soon as the computer is on they belive say 'I dont know how todo this, do it for me.' Here we need tough love. We need to educate people instead of dumbing it down for them. If we keep dumbing down everything soon we will live in a world of no sharp corners and then how are we going to cut our meat? While a bad UI sucks.. its even worse when we reinvet the UI for each user.. becuse unless they can just 'know' how to use it they will never learn it. Its time we start looking at technology as something that people need to learn how to work with.. and not insticvtly understand. This means better documentation, cleaner UI's, and never dumbing something down to the lowest commone demonotator. But rather we should understand.. some people are stupid.. and we dont need to work with them until they make themselfs Un-stupid.

Good UI quote... (3, Funny)

Ian Peon (232360) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830294)

Credited to one of my coworkers (who designs UIs), after pressing the wrong button on a shoddy UI:

"ARRGH, do what I'm THINKING, not what I'm telling you!!!"

UI is not that hard (4, Interesting)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830297)

First you must understand that under no conditions will users read the manual. Ever. Save yourself the cost and don't even bother printing one.

Now go build your system so that someone can use it without knowing anything. Also, make it so that an advanced user can get to the functions she wants without going through some idiotic "wizard."

UI tests with actual users? What a interesting thought!!! Maybe someone should try that, too!

Think VCRs... Think Ozzy... (5, Insightful)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830299)

I know quite a few people who can't program their VCRs, and seem proud of their ignorance. These are not (all) stupid people, but it seems that anything even slightly technical is beyond the interest of most of the population. (I'm laughing here thinking of the episode of the Osbornes where Ozzy is trying to use his state-of-the-art entertainment centre: "Why is it you need f*ckin' compuer skills to turn on the f*ckin' telly!?")

When something as simple as setting a start and end time plus a channel is beyond a large proportion of the population, it's going to be impossible to design an interface for TIVO that *anyone* can use. At some point you have to give up...

Re:Think VCRs... Think Ozzy... (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830351)

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing Where have all the flowers gone? Long time away Where have all the flowers gone? Youg girls picked them every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the young girls gone? Long time passing Where have all the young girls gone? Long time away Where have all the young girls gone? Gone and married every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the young men gone? Long time passing Where have all the young men gone? Long time away Where have all the young men gone? Gone to soldiers every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time away Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time passing Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time away Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? -- Elvis Presley

The customer is always right. (5, Insightful)

ryanvm (247662) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830302)

From a marketing point of view you're dead wrong. If you want to survive in a competitive marketplace you can't be telling your customers to RTFM. It just doesn't work that way. Bash Microsoft and AOL all you want, but part of their success is definately due to ease of use.

There is no such thing as "too user-friendly". If someone buys a surround sound stereo system it's because they want good sound while they watch movies. They really shouldn't be asked to learn the intracacies of stereo system design.

In the end, it should just work. If you don't make a product that's easy to use, somebody else will.

Speed of progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830305)

The culprit is the sheer number of new inventions that people have to learn. Do you really have time to read every manual?

video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830307)

There is a cool video that discusses these issues and many more. Details over at good old imdb [imdb.com] .

--onby

Biggest two problems: (3, Interesting)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830308)

1) Lack of basic knowledge or incentive to acquire it. I sell computers in your basic retailer setting, and consumers really are the dumbest, laziest people out there (in general, there are always exceptions). Nine times out of ten, a customer would rather complain that something is too difficult than take the extra five minutes to simply read a short section from a manual. I have people call and ask me how to connect, say, the line level plug to their speakers on the computer they just bought. Anyone who has opened a retail computer in the last two years knows that there is a big, glossy fold out "poster-size" page with a color illustreation of the three steps necessary to plug in basic cables. Square peg in square hole, blue trapezoid in blue trapezoid-al hole. Things 4-year-olds have already mastered. It also never ceases to entertain me when customers will readily spend an extra $200 to get a machine with four features they don't need just so they can have more RAM. "But," I'll say, "You can walk right over there and get an additional X MB and pop it in. Do you really want to spend another $200?".

Problem 2: Easy-to-use is obviously subjective. I prefer a heavily hierarchical organization in everything. On windows machines, I'll typically have only 4 categories under "programs", each with sub-categories and sometimes sub-sub-categories, ie. Entertainment->Games->FPS->Q3. It makes sense to me and allows me to launch programs more quickly. It frustrates the hell out of my girlfriend, who prefers the "Giant alphabetical order list" of programs. Of course, her method is far more suitable on my iBook.

So, to summarize: Ease of use still requires a little bit of education/effort in learning. What's easy to use for you or the interface designer may not be easy to use for Grandpa or my girlfriend or me. Allow a good degree of customization and configuring, but make those options obvious and easy to locate.

Problem is Part Engineering and Part Marketing (1)

Dr_Harm (529148) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830312)

The problem with 'user-friendlyness' is really about equal parts an engineering problem and marketing problem.

From the engineering side, products could/should have much better interfaces. The interface should just be more than a way to access every feature. It should present some sort of logical pattern. Part of that is trying to figure out how the product is going to be used (as opposed to should be used), and try to identify how your consumers are going to look at it.

As an example of this, consider the VCR. The basic functions for tape manipulation (play, stop, rewind, fast-forward) are generally on larger buttons and prominently labeled. Good design there -- of course, then they make the buttons needed to program the thing small and badly labled (dark blue text on black background!?!). The engineers failed to recognize that those buttons would be important to me.

On the marketing side, consumers are misled. The easiest way to get someone to identify a task as difficult is to convince them that it should be trivially easy and then make it just slightly more difficult than that. No matter how easy it is to do, if you've got people's expectations set to expect easier, the task seems impossible.

As an example of what I mean by this, consider the PVR marketing which tends to claim that the unit (regardless of who makes it) is just as easy to use as a VCR. That's a nice thing to say... and as someone who has owned multiple VCRs for more than 10 years, I expect something that is downright trivial to operate. Well, they aren't. Luckily I'm used to menus, 'selecting' items, and navigation keys from my experience with other devices... but my expectation (from the marketing) was set to 'extremely easy', and it wasn't.

In summary:

  • We do need to work on our interfaces as more than just a logical extension of the function set. They should impose some clear structure on the choices based on common usage scenarios.
  • We need to make the marketing more honest. A PVR is no more difficult to use than a computer, but it's notably more difficult to use than a VCR. It's 1000% better to have someone take a unit home with an expectation of spending 30 minutes to set it up, and have it only take 5. The reverse is not good, and leaves the consumer with a bad taste in their mouth.

Matt

Different Interfaces for Different Skill Levels (4, Interesting)

scotpurl (28825) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830322)

Everyone writes one interface for every skill level. There ought to be different interfaces according to your choice, or according to what level of interface the system thinks you can handle.

That last part's a bit broad, so I'll clear things up. With a normal PC, you've got CPU cycles to spare, and the computer has time to tell if you move deliberately for a menu choice, or if you're hunting for it, or if you keep choosing something, and cancelling out of the choice.

For a VCR, the default interface should be as simple as the buttons on the front. If you read the manual a bit, it will tell you how to turn on the intermediate features. If you read a lot, you can turn on the advanced features. If you read waaay too much, you get to turn on the command-line interface that uses reverse-Polish notation, in Aramaic, but displayed approximately by using Turkish for vowels, and Cantonese for consonants.

Everyone's not as comfortable with it as folks like us are, and because computers can do sooo bloody much, we should stop boring them, and give the computers more to do, such as providing different interfaces for different skill levels. We use short command interfaces with our kids and our pets ("Sit! Quiet!"), and much longer command interfaces with our peers ("Dude, nice frag!"). It's a very natural thing to do, and we ought to start allowing computers to do the same.

Never enough... (1)

YellowG (120695) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830325)

> but isn't there a point where users have got to share some of the blame?

Your product should be user friendly to your entire user base target. If it's a TV for the general public it better have an ON/OFF button Channel up and down, and Volume... If it's a TiVo targetted for the technically savvy then if grandma doesn't know how to use it off the bat then it's okay when the intended target for the TiVo are those who are technically savvy.

If TiVo is for everyone and everyone is not able to use it right off the bat then it is not user friendly enough.

Granted that most companies do not target every one but limit it to consumers with a Grade 6 reading level and have some common sense.

Everyone that doesn't satisfy those categories need to....

Often easy things are overlooked.... (1)

minion2 (531192) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830327)

Sometimes there are really simple things that, when worked with, can have a great effect.

Take computers, for example. You "run" programs... (okay, some also say execute, etc, but the standard term is "run") That wouldn't make much sense to a beginning user. Notice they are even called "users." Wouldn't it make more sense for a user to use a program, rather than run it? You could logically say, "Well, I was using my email client when...," but saying, "Well, I was running my email client" could confuse a complete newbie.

There are other things, too. Various terms for actions are either misleading or hard for a beginner to figure out. "Minimize, maximize, shade" - all terms we understand, but new users have to learn. Wouldn't it be advantageous to find new terms?

This is something I'm waiting for a desktop environment to do. Change the jargon. Use words that people use in every day life. Wouldn't that make sense?

Think about a VCR. The standard operations are all simple. Play. Stop. Rewind is iffy. Fast-forward makes sense... go forward quickly. I think fast play would be better, but it sounds stupid.

Sometimes a little bit of thought mixed with the opinions of some beginners is all you need. I would, however, venture to say that the average company runs tests of it's products before they ship.

Just my $.02...

In the "From the So and so dept" (1)

Nashville Guy (585073) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830328)

Shouldnt it be "From the RTFM Department? Sheesh, if we are going to have to start being all nice to end users, I am gonna start worrying!

As the BOFH would say... (2)

AgTiger (458268) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830329)

> but isn't there a point where users have got to share some of the blame?

Wouldn't that be ALL of the time? Delete their files, erase their account, and lock them in the tape safe.

"Bastard Operator from Hell [ntk.net] " articles here... Enjoy. ;-)


That's easy! (1)

HD Webdev (247266) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830331)

Why do today's software and consumer electronics users expect to be able to fire up their new toy and magically have a complete understanding of how to use it?"

Because M$ and AOL have been pounding that into people's heads for years through advertising and billions of bisks arriving in the mail saying so.

That's a really good question (1)

Zenithal (115213) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830332)

... and I think we're seeing signs of how user friendly is too user friendly with the reviews of Gnome 2.

In that case the developers have gone so far in removing options and disabling features that they've started to alienate the target audience that most wants the product, for the sake of attracting the lowest common denominator.

I think part of the problem is that only the people who don't understand a system, any system, say anything about it. For every user that says "I don't get it" there isn't one that says "Made sense to me".

We Have Control (1)

barry_williams (101559) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830333)

As developers, we have ultimate control over how easy a particular application should be to use. Making an application easy to use widens the user base therefore becoming a cymbiotic relationship between users (who want easy to use applications) and developers (who want a large user base).

As a mission goal developers should strive to make sure applications they develop are as easy to use as possible.

This is certainly a goal in the Windows world, unfortunately not yet so widespread in the Linux world.

The reasons why users should expect a lot from UI (1)

xelph (542741) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830335)

1) Because users (i.e. all of us, including UI designers) have way too many things to do nowadays, too many tasks and events to deal with. Thus, they should not have to spend any time learning how to operate a widget, unless this widget is one of their professional tools (doctors surely do not complain too much about the complexity of certain medical equipment, pilots do not complain too much about the complexity of plane instruments, and last but not least, programmers surely complain when programming environments are too easy to use). 2) Because it is good for you, the UI designer. If people complain, you will push the envelope, you will devise better ways, you will simplify to the extreme, and ultimately that will be a good thing (except maybe for professional tools, once again, where features are often more important than ease of use). What I would agree with, however, is that users do not necessarily know what they want, or how to solve UI problems, thus the goal of UI should be to listen and to solve problems. In the case of a box like TiVO (I have not used it so I am just suggesting here... maybe what they have is much better), a way to simplify could be to have a big HELP button on the remote. Click it and a FAQ appears on the screen, with the most common procedures. Pick the one you want to do (e.g. "I want to record a show"), and the box guides you on-screen, step by step, while you are performing the procedure live (like a Wizard).

User Friendly Defined (1)

jjames (218359) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830336)

User friendly is an relative term. It depends on
the audience of the UI. Non-computer savvy people will have a different level of training with common computer interface idioms, and require a lower-level of interface complexity. Lower complexity sometimes lowers the maximum possible UI productivity due to increased steps or elimination of full functional generality.

Computer-human interaction takes place on the basis
of a language- text, graphics, gestures. Since computers do not have the capability to understand or detect human intent or feedback at a high level, it is the interface is designed to present the functionality and language features at a relatively low-level of complexity. As most programmers will tell you, a text-language based interface is the most flexible and functional, but not the easiest to master. UIs are intended to bring the computer-human interaction less learning on the part of the human. Graphical symbols and gestures attempt facilitate communication rapidly and intuitively (pic==1^3 words, etc).

If an interface is used a lot, humans are
trained on the language and rapidly (sometimes)
acquire proficiency with the available functionality. At this point, the UI is often
a barrier if it is too simple. At least I find
GUIs are a barrier (I'm a programmer).

Anyway, it is possible for a UI to be too simple
if it lacks additional capabilities for proficient
users to quickly get their task done, esp. if the intent of the product with the UI is to be used frequently.

You are asking the wrong question (2)

tlambert (566799) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830338)

You asked: "Why do today's software and consumer electronics users expect to be able to fire up their new toy and magically have a complete understanding of how to use it?".

That's the wrong question: they don't expect that.

What they expect is that they will be able to fire up their new toy" and have it be usable. That's a *lot* different then expecting to "have a complete understanding of how to use it".

And the answer to the real question is "because they paid good money for the thing, it should do what it says it does without me having to wave a dead chicken over it".

-- Terry

User Friendly is a myth (5, Insightful)

oGMo (379) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830341)

Funny, we were just talking about this as it related to another post I just made [slashdot.org] . The thing is, there is no such thing as user friendly, at least the conventional meaning of the phrase. It all boils down to two factors:

  • Ease of use
  • Ease of learning

The phrase "user friendly" comes about by confusing the two: somehow assuming that by being easy to sit down and learn with no work, something is easier to use. Then it's "user friendly."

Unfortunately, this isn't how it works in the real world, at least usually. A tool can be built that is easy to use---powerful, flexible, suited toward the job; or it can be easy to learn---no training required. Usually the tradeoff for the latter is that functionality is limited, so the user isn't overwhelmed. A balance of sorts must be achieved. Most of the best tools lean toward easy to use, and rightly so: you're only a newbie for a very short time. You may be using the tool for the rest of your life.

However, these aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, either. It is possible, in theory, to build an interface that is both easy to use and easy to learn, as long as one does not equate the two, or think that one somehow implies the other. Doing this is rather tricky though. A good example of such interfaces are those for simple tools which can be applied to a wide variety of uses (a hammer, /bin/ls, etc.). Another example is that some games tend to use: the dynamic interface, which starts with a few key options, and gradually adds more.

Thus, "user friendly" doesn't really exist in the conventional sense, which equates this sense of immediate ease of learning with continued ease of use. Rather, ease-of-learning and ease-of-use must be balanced, and attaining something truly user friendly requires a lot more than having icons and a mouse, or fewer menu entries.

In a word ... "duh" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830342)

Why are users immediately forgiven for not even taking the least amount of effort to look for a solution to their confusion in the manual.

Well, if someone paid me to design and build a tivo, they can blame me when it doesn't work the way they want it to. I don't know why everyone assumes that tech stuff has to be so obscure that people need to read the manual for everything. When was the last time you had to check the manual to use a cd player, or a pencil sharpener? When people can't figure out how to compile something everyone says "RTFM", when you can't figure out the pencil sharpener they assume you're a moron, or from a exclusive pen using country or something. The problem is clearly not the users, but these developers that don't understand their audience, and what it means to be user friendly.

User friendlyness isn't always good. (3, Insightful)

ThePurpleBuffalo (111594) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830343)

First let me start out by saying that I'm an elitist in a lot of ways.

Cars are probably the most user friendly device on the market. Just think about the potential reduction in deaths due to drunk drivers if cars were LESS user friendly.

Now, let's go to the computer side of things. Grade school children are able to find images online and print them out because of the current state of user friendlyness. I've heard of "computer class" where this is taught and encouraged, while at the same time, children who use paper, scisors and glue instead are somewhat shunned. (I think Clifford Stoll makes reference to this in "High-Tech Heretic".)

To a very high degree, user friendlyness removes control from the user and uses "logic" to try to make assumptions about what the user really wants. Just look at MS-Word and "auto-correct" which changes "Teh" to "The". (I had a classmate in university with the last name "Teh"... in the end I used vi.)

Am I big on user friendlyness? No. I use console Slackware. I use vi. I drive a stick. Perhaps I like to know that I control the output, and nothing will happen except what I tell it to do.

Is there anyone else out there that feels the same way?

Beware TPB

Different Types of Users (5, Insightful)

simetra (155655) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830348)

It's been my experience that:
1. 90+% of users are incapable and/or unwilling to think. Regardless of how obvious the UI is, they need to be sat down and trained like monkeys to repeat a series of steps to accomplish whatever they're trying to do. They cannot, or will not, stop, look at the screen, and make an intelligent choice on how to proceed. No matter how plain and simple the UI is, it's like they had a part of their brain removed.
2. About 5% of users can make decisions based on the UI to accomplish their goals.
3. The remaining few percent, which we would call Power Users, have a decent understanding of how computers work, how files work, where they're located, how to find them. They know that if they're trying to open a file, they can usually do this by clicking File, and maneuvering down the menu. They can figure out that if their X: drive isn't opening, it's probably because they aren't logged in to the network. They can take a tip, and make a logical conclusion, like "Oh yeah, okay, then I can do this and this. Thanks." These users are very few and far between.
Windows is great for the few who understand that there are common elements of (most) every application. Still though, it's that 90+% that will suck the life out of you every time.

No. (1)

ilyag (572316) | more than 11 years ago | (#3830355)

It's just that what's user-friendly (comfortable to use) for me, is not necessary that for you, or, what's worse, for the "average user".

Some users have got to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3830356)

I used to work supporting small businesses with their computers. I can't you the number of times that I got a call because their computer won't "work", and when I went on site, the computer was either unplugged, or the strip it was plugged into was turned off, or something stupid like that.
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