At 3:01 PM -0800 11/14/1999, Quinn Norton wrote:
> > Empathy in design.
>> And the notion that HCI design is all about automation and "ease of use."
>this seems as good a point at any to ask about another facet of interface,
>about which i have fuzzy impressions. a lot of emphasis is given (in the
>literature i've read) to making everything as easy as possible, often to
>get the user to their task while making them learn as little as possible.
>this seems defeating to me. almost depressing.
I see HI design as providing efficient, effective and satisfying
tools for the job at hand.
So for general-purpose systems and sites, they should be easy enough
that anyone who pays attention can do the basic tasks by just poking
gently until they find something that looks right (this also means
not letting them do something stupid, like erase their hard disk or
buy a Ferrari, without a lot of warnings).
For more intense situations (search engine management,
broadcast-quality video editing, programming, scientific analysis,
etc), an interface should quietly provide the tools without getting
in the way. This may mean custom palettes, scripting, key commands,
and other approaches that are right for experts.
In both cases, the interface should be almost invisible when the user
is confident; helpful and informative when they need to do something
new. I love an interface where you can think to yourself "I want to
do that", look at the menus or links, and there it is!
Always remember that the program (or a web site) is a means to an
end, rather than the end in itself. Your job is not to force them to
learn your system, it's to help them accomplish their task.
Sometimes, they choose to learn better and faster ways of working,
and your interface should provide that information. But it shouldn't
*require* training unless the system is immensely complex -- even
experts have other lives as a general rule. With a multilayered
interface, you can hand-hold the beginners (and those who've been
away for a while), and let the experts skip the boring bits.
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