Linked by David Adams on Wed 24th May 2006 04:08 UTC
Editorial It's conventional wisdom that computers need to be "easier to use." But do they? More reliable, yes. Easier to troubleshoot, yes. But now that so many people use computers so much, I think there's something to be said for making them less easy-to-use and less intuitive.
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You are all just a bit unfair
by alcibiades on Wed 24th May 2006 16:46 UTC
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He's making some worthwhile points.

1) Graphical wizards when endlessly nested aren't necessarily easier than text based tools.

2) The desktop/folder metaphor is very attractive to new users but it may be, compared to a proper file manager, a hindrance to understanding.

3) What sells new users in the shop display may drive experienced users crazy if they are compelled to use it.

4) Maybe the industry obsession with ease of use for new users is getting it wrong. His example of video remote controls is very interesting. I would include texting on mobiles as a similar example - as far from conventional human interface design and ease of use as you can get, but it took off like a bomb.

5) The most interesting thing is that he is a Mac user. Now its not the first time I have heard of Mac users throwing out the dock, clearing the desktop, and going to an empty desktop and a file manager when they actually need to manage files. Is it possible that Mac users, having been the first to embrace the desktop metaphor, are also the first to come to the end of it?

What I found when introducing naive users to Windowmaker is that it was surprisingly well accepted. No desktop icons except program icons, multiple desktops, use a file manager to find your files. All totally contrary to the Human Interface guidelines which were inspired by Xerox and Apple 20 years ago. And yet the universal reaction (including from old ladies of 70 with computer phobia) was 'of course I can use this'.

Makes one think.

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