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Re: A really good article on software usability



On Thu, 2007-01-04 at 17:55 -0500, Jacques B. wrote:
> I took programming 20 some years ago.  Even back then they preached
> using terminology familiar to the end user.  I don't expect that's
> changed any.  If anything more effort has gone into that.  The author
> of this article is from a different generation.  Ask people under 40
> and you'll most likely find many of them find the currently
> terminology intuitive vs "Throw away everything you've just done?".
> Granted the author was making a point and not likely suggesting that
> actual text I suspect.

But it's the sort of thing that *they* thought of, without really
thinking.  To throw away "everything" would include what you'd saved,
not just last set of changes since you last saved it.

Granted that it could be worded better, but people still need to think.
I was helping someone come to terms with computing a while back, and
every time they closed a document, they'd be asked about saving it, and
they'd always say yes, no matter what.  They put no thought into the
fact that they hadn't made any changes to the document, so that they
shouldn't save as closing.  The program was stupidly prompting them,
because they'd printed it (not a real document change, in the normal
understanding of the word).  Alternatively, they might have accidentally
hit the keyboard while viewing the document, and they'd be saving a goof
into a previously fine document.

If the user does not use their brain, then all is lost.  There's a
number of people I've come very close to telling that they're too stupid
to use a computer.  No matter how many years of instructing, no matter
how many years they complain about the same thing going wrong, they
don't learn, they don't pay attention to the explanations, they just
whinge at you while you're talking to them.

I do wish programmers would engage their brain, too.  One of my pet
peeves are error messages that tell you to consult your adminstrator for
help.  What bloody person is that going to be on a *PERSONAL* computer
running Win98, WinME, or WinXP Home?  What it basically means is that
the programmer is not going to help you with the error, and neither does
the operating system have pre-written help for that subject.  And, quite
probably, there's no real help on the internet, other than some hacker's
guesses at how the system needs configuring.



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