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

Subject: Re: What is Intuitive? (was Re: Usability)
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 13:22:27 PDT

Jared M. Spool 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.

You don't have kids, do you?

Intuition is "the act or faculty of knowing without the use of rational
processes: immediate cognition."

Some people have noted consciously that power switches and power cords
tend to be on the right rear corner of electrical devices. Other people
have never thought about it, but reach there first when feeling for the
switch. That second group of people uses intuition.

The point about "intuitive" design is that, when the user guesses what to
do, you want him to guess right. In data books, I put pinouts and AC
specs at the back, right before the index. That's where they are, typically,
for complex parts. The user typically can flip to the right section without

A proper intuitive system invokes analogies to other systems with which
the user is familiar. The "desktop metaphor" developed by Xerox PARC is
a good example. Files were organized into folders, drawers, and cabinets.
When you threw something away, it wasn't irretrievably lost until you
emptied the trash. Hierarchical pop-up menus with a logical and consistent
organization made it easy to figure out how to do things.

While a person who was raised by wolves would be unlikely to understand
a desktop metaphor, the fact remains that one can design machinery or
programs to be easily grasped by members of the target audience. All
you have to do is convince the designers that their choices aren't
arbitrary (you don't design a stamping press in which the big red
button means "go").

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

TECHWR-L List Information
To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
E-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send administrative commands
ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-

Previous by Author: Re: Page Numbering Conundrum
Next by Author: Re: Two spaces after a full stop
Previous by Thread: What is Intuitive? (was Re: Usability)
Next by Thread: Re: Electronic books/PDF drawbacks

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads