Re: Intuitive (was Minimalism)

Subject: Re: Intuitive (was Minimalism)
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 18:28:10 -0600

>The only meaningful meaning of "intuitive" that I can
>understand is "familiar". Does anyone have another?
>If "familiar" is what we mean by "intuitive", can we
>please start using "familiar" instead? If that is not
>what you mean by "intuitive", please help me understand
>what you do mean.
>I think that if we dropped "intutive" and used "familiar",
>we would not get into traps and textbook examples like
>the red flag on the US rural mailbox because it would be
>very clear that to some people red flags on mailboxes
>are familiar and to some they aren't. Using "intuitive"
>sounds like some universal, human, psychological characteristic.

>Thank you
>John Ahlstrom
>jahlstrom -at- cisco -dot- com

I disagree. To me, familiar (as related to instructions) implies that
the person has gone through the process before and is now retracing
their steps. Intuitive implies that the person can perform a process
correctly without (or with very few) instructions the first time they
attempt it.

What may make a process intuitive is the person's familiarity with
similar processes. Another factor in making a process intuitive is a
strong correlation that the landmarks the person has to go by (command
names/locations, interface clarity, labels, and so forth) and the
measurable results have with the expected results. Therefore, an
easy-to-understand process is intuitive the first time the person
performs it and is familiar the second (and subsequent) times they
perform it (unless they forget--then it becomes intuitive again).

Intuitive, to me, also varies with the person. What is easy to grasp
for me may be impossible for you without instructions (or vice versa).
Familiar implies that the person already knows how to do it regardless
of how hard it was to learn. Familiarity is a static quality while
intuitiveness is variable.


| Michael Wing
| Principal Technical Writer
| Infrastructure Technical Information Development
| Intergraph Corporation
| Huntsville, Alabama
| (205) 730-7250
| mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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