[H-GEN] In office scheduling program...

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Fri Jun 2 07:44:53 EDT 2000

On Fri, Jun 02, 2000 at 09:30:42AM +1000, Grant, Luke wrote:
> > One day I'd like someone to take me through the logic that shows
> > intuitiveness is (the best|the only|a reasonable) measure of
> > the ease of use and general worthiness of any given piece of software.
> The logic follows as thus.
> Company buys software.
> Company installs software on network.
> Company holds training session run buy engineering/IT.
> if (program is intuitive)

This doesn't actually relate that much to intuitiveness. To wit:

From WordNet (r) 1.6 [wn]:
       adj 1: derived from or prompted by a natural tendency; "an
              intuitive perception"; "visceral revulsion"; "a
              glandular aversion to materialistic values" [syn: {visceral},
       2: obtained through intuition rather than from reasoning or
          observation [syn: {nonrational}]

If you're already doing a training session, you're not just relying
on users' intuitions anymore, so if there's a problem, there are other
things to blame it on too.

What you're really relying on here is a combination of things like:

	a) how good your teachers are
	b) whether what they had to teach is straightforward
	c) whether the software acts in the way users expect it to

The first item isn't really all that flexible, so we'll ignore it.

The second item is subtly different to "intuitive": dselect, eg, isn't
particularly intuitive. Sit down at it never having seen it before,
and press some buttons, and you've got a good chance of screwing up
your system. On the other hand, once you've learnt some keystrokes, and
learnt not to do a few things, and learnt what it's talking about when
the "dependency resolution screens" come up, is fairly straightforward
and pleasant.

The third item is more an issue of avoiding questions like "Hey, in Word
I can just do such-n-such to get a mail merge, but that doesn't work
with this piece of junk you've given me, you all suck!", which isn't
a matter of the feature being unintuitive in the current software, or
difficult to teach, more that you can't teach anything and things being
different to how you might expect can be annoying.

Simplifying such things to just being "unintuitive" doesn't really do
the matter justice. If you want an easy phrase for most of the above,
"difficult to teach" might sum it up better.

ObOnTopic: To add to this problem, what Unix users, and, say, Windows
users might expect are fairly different. Unix users expect scriptability
(in the sense that you can use any program as a component in your scripts,
not vice-versa), and a high degree of configurability; Windows users
expect a slick interface, and to not have to understand anything beyond
where to click in order to get the job done.

These aren't unreasonable expectations, but they tend to be either
incompatible or at least a lot of effort to combine. In some ways, it
might be better to simply change people's expectations rather than to
meet them. Certainly Microsoft managed to change people's expectations
of computers and hasn't suffered too much from it [0].


[0] Examples: whether fatal bugs are common in operating systems, whether
    a computer on every desk is feasible, whether you should have to know
    what you're doing to manage a computer (compare with the previous). I'd
    be inclined to add "whether you expect your computer to have a GUI" as

Anthony Towns <aj at humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG encrypted mail preferred.

  ``We reject: kings, presidents, and voting.
                 We believe in: rough consensus and working code.''
                                      -- Dave Clark
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 350 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.humbug.org.au/pipermail/general/attachments/20000602/9b0df7bd/attachment.sig>

More information about the General mailing list