Re: "intuitive" products/interfaces & standards

Subject: Re: "intuitive" products/interfaces & standards
From: Fred M Jacobson <fred -at- BOOLE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994 10:41:45 PST


What is "intuitive" and "natural?" I'd include anything a typical
newborn can do. I'd argue about anything else. Apple has a great
video showing a todler using a Mac. It's clear that the Mac and
similar interfaces are easier to _learn_ to use. They are more
conspicuous and more like the physical world, so you can see what
your doing and use knowledge _you_already_have_ about how to
manipulate physical things to learn how to manipulate software

Well-documented interface standards help make new products easy to
learn to use, but this only goes so far in a competitive system
where I must distinguish my product from the competition to sell it.
WordPerfect is not producing a clone of MS Word that runs faster or
sells for less. If I try to tun on the headlights in one of my
family's cars the way I do it in the other, the windshield wiper
starts instead.

Standards also tend to be sub-optimal. They need to change as
understanding and technology improve. Ted Nelson pointed out at
a talk at BayCHI that a clipboard that hold one thing is nuts. If
I'm working with a bunch of information and I want to change how
it's arranged, I'd like to spread the pieces around and move 'em
around as I look for the arrangement I want. Why should I have to
pull out one and insert it somewhere else before I touch another?

Don't get me wrong: I'm _for_ standards in interfaces, but their
overriding advantage is that the users are already familiar with
them (and that they are already documented).

INTERNET: fred -at- boole -dot- com PHONE: (408) 526-3292 FAX: (408) 526-3055
USPS: Fred Jacobson / Boole & Babbage / 3131 Zanker Road / San Jose CA 95134

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