Re: Completely intuitive software

Subject: Re: Completely intuitive software
From: David Locke <dlocke -at- BINDVIEW -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 18:20:07 -0500

The most formal definition of intuitive software that I have come across is
software that is consistent with the user's conceptual model. That
conceptual model comes from the application domain and the user's experience
with the application. The central question to ask is are the objects
(entities) in the application already familiar to the user. And, can the
user manipulate those objects the way they manipulate the real world objects
modeled by the application. If this is true, then the application is going
to be intuitive.

When an application is technology focused, that application still has an
application domain. A database technology still implements some database
theory. The degree to which the relevant theory is known to the user impacts
the application's intuitiveness. That theory and an audience analysis will
provide the basis for the baseline conceptual model around which the
application is designed.

The user's conceptual model can be expanded as the user's experience with
the application grows. For example, I'll think abut fuel injectors after I
know how to drive. Ideally, the application's behavior will reinforce the
user's conceptual model. The car stops when I press the brake peddle. When
the application's behavior and the user's conceptual model fail to converge,
the UI has serious usability problems. The car dosen't stop when I press the
brake peddle.

Intuitive software will not result from a focus on look and feel, on
windows/dialogs/controls, or on a black box view of the application.

David W. Locke

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