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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by Dave_K on Wed 24th May 2006 19:50 UTC
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Personally I've never had a problem with UIs being dumbed down, as long as they're still customisable. Software with a simple default UI for new users can still provide access to more advanced features. They may be a little more hidden, but surely that's not really a problem for more experienced users who are happy to look through menu options and preferences? It seems like a small price to pay for an interface that's much more approachable for novices.

The web browser Opera is a good example. Look at all the criticism of it's UI a few years ago; many people switching from simpler browsers hated how "cluttered" the UI was, and reviews regularly complained about the complexity. With more recent versions the UI has been heavily simplified, with most of the features hidden by default. Despite that no features have actually been removed, they're still easily discoverable for people who care to look, and as the UI is quick and easy to customise, experienced Opera users can bring back the features they use in seconds.

Another example is the remote control with my TV/DVD-recorder. On it's surface it just has a small number of large buttons to provide quick access to the most common options. You flip it open to access more advanced recording and tuning features that generally aren't in regular use. To me that kind of design is a perfectly good compromise when creating an interface for a device that has a large number of functions.

Of course in an ideal world products would be intuitive enough not to need that kind of compromise, but when dealing with something that's complex and feature rich, that's a very difficult challenge.

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