Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Nov 2007 16:32 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces The past few weeks, as you surely have noticed, I have written a few articles on various usability terms [part I | part II | part III | part IV | part V]. I explain what they mean, their origins, as well as their implications for graphical user interface design. Even though the series is far from over, I would like to offer a bit more insight into why I am diving into these subjects.
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Last year, I was using a rule of thumb. If an adult cannot trivially learn what my 2 year old can, they are not competent to speak on the subject. Do you think that is unfair?

I think you should learn some psychology or biology. So because I cannot be bilingual by listening to other people talking around me, does it mean that I am more stupid than a 2 year old?

No, it doesn't. In the same way, adults have more difficulties learning to use a new application or GUI, because the biological learning phrase has already ended for them. Also, they have other things to do aside from playing around (because that is how children learn) with unintuitive applications; like taking care of their own 2 year olds. ;)

Of course, you are right in that wanting to learn is important. But it is also important to keep the learning curve short.

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Belial6 Member since:


I think you should learn some psychology or biology. Because you CAN learn to be bilingual by being put in a fully immersive foreign language environment with anywhere from 1 to dozens of full time language instructors who will happily spend hours on end holding up objects and pronouncing their names. Add to this the very low standard that is applied to a 2 year old to consider them bilingual or fluent in the language. So, yes, if you cannot learning a second language when given the same resources, you are more stupid than a 2 year old. Really the 'kids learn languages easier' myth is a perfect example of bad research. I have known literally hundreds of people that have become as fluent as a 2 year old in a second language with only a few hours a week of study in a non-immersive environment. The facts just don't support your premise.


No, I explicitly stated that the current crop of GUIs are simple and intuitive. I also stated that if an adult has trouble with the current crop, I do not believe them to be competent enough on the subject to have meaningful input. As to me wanting to promote my OS of choice... That is clearly a reactionary response with no thought behind it. I neither indicated what OS I would endorse, nor limited my praise to a particular OS. Some OS UIs that I would include in what are fundamentally the same would be Windows, Gnome, KDE, MacOS, OSX, OS/2, AmigaOS, TOS, GeOS, BeOS, PocketPC, and... Drum roll please... LosethOS. That's right. Reimplementing the same old interfaces using text instead of graphics is neither new nor different.

All of these OSes have different levels of refinement, and some might have different foceses, but they are all fundamentally the same UI. A competent user of Windows or Gnome are easily going to figure out how to run a program on TOS or Amiga with little trouble.

As for being as you say "Retarded"... Maybe you should look inward when you use that word to try and support the position that a UI that is intuitive for the illiterate are not intuitive for the literate. Hot keys are great and all, but they are far from intuitive. They are something that give greater functionality when you have moved past the intuitive phase and have moved into the trained phase. A screen full of text MIGHT be more productive to someone that has learned where the text should be for particular applications, but just because someone can read well, and can sort text from a jumble on the screen does not mean that pictures stop being intuitive.

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