Re: What is Intuitive? (was Re: Usability)

Subject: Re: What is Intuitive? (was Re: Usability)
From: "Parks, Beverly L." <parksb -at- HUACHUCA-EMH7 -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL>
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 08:34:00 MST

Jared M. Spool[SMTP:jspool -at- uie -dot- com] wrote-->
There is nothing about computers that are intuitive. The only things
for humans that are intuitive have to do with eating, sleeping,
elimination and reproduction.

I think you are confusing intuition with instinct. Instinct is innate,
unlearned behavior. Intuition, OTOH, involves gaining knowledge without
the use of rational processes. We may gain new knowledge via intuition,
but the basal skills such as the things you listed, are generally known
at birth.

Intuitive, when used to describe computers and software, is used very
loosely, but not entirely wrong, IMO. Intuition is a way of learning, so
to speak. Also, whereas instinct is pretty much universal, intuition is
more individual. Who is to judge whether something on a computer screen
was intuitive or not to one individual? Wouldn't we need a thorough
knowledge of that person's background to say with certainty that it
wasn't intuition?

Using computers and software is a learned skill. The more skills you
learn, the easier future skills are to learn.

Couldn't agree more.

User interfaces communicate. They provide clues that are essential
to the operation. When users talk about interfaces not being
intuitive, in our research, they are always refering to clues being
missing. You add the tools, the interfaces become more intuitive.
But you haven't changed the essence of the interface, you've only
changed the clues.

I agree with everything you're saying. I guess I just had a problem with
classifying eating, sleeping, etc., as intuition. I'm trying to think of
a more appropriate term to describe the process you just described in the
previous paragraph. It's not intuition. I must be having a brain cramp
because all I can think of is "user friendly". Arrrg! No!

I've recently seen a signature on an email message:
"It's intuitive once you learn it."
That pretty much sums up my opinions on "intuitive" interfaces.

Good one!

Bev (just letting her thoughts flow)
parksb -at- huachuca-emh7 -dot- army -dot- mil

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