Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome

13 Aug 2004 - 5:55pm
9 years ago
12 replies
470 reads
landay
2004

This is a great comment and it is funny that I just wrote about something
very similar on my (new) blog this morning (see
http://dubfuture.blogspot.com/). I was complaining about how Microsoft chose
not to put a pen-centric UI on the TabletPC and instead chose a very
incremental change over the standard desktop GUI. The main problem was
because of learning and the necessary transitioning between the two UIs.

The best example of I know of seamlessly moving from a novice interface to
an expert interface is with Kurtenbach & Buxton's Marking Menus (see the
above blog for links). In Marking Menus, the novice sees a normal pop-up
pie menu (like a standard GUI, though circular menus are standard). If one
moves through the menu interaction (right button down, move in direction of
selection, release) fast, the menu never even displays. So, as the user gets
more advanced and faster with this interaction, their normal practice moves
them to the expert UI seamlessly.

---
James A. Landay
Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science & Engineering
University of Washington
642 Allen Center, Box 352350
Seattle, WA 98195-2350
landay at cs.washington.edu
http://cs.washington.edu/homes/landay

> -----Original Message-----
> Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:00:39 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com>
> Subject: [ID Discuss] "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome
>[cut excess]
> Moral of story:
>
> Going back to a topic many months ago, how does one
> balance simplicity for the simpleton and mediocrity
> for the majority of user? I am constantly hounded by
> this dilemma, in my designs. How can IxD transition a
> beginner UI to a intermediate UI? Doesn't the
> beginner UI train the user in bad habits, that will
> prevent the user from increasing skills?
>
> Please give examples of UIs that have succeeded in
> solving this problem. Thanks.
>
> The second question: how to convince management to
> allow a functionality to be designed in 2 modes:
> "beginner" and "intermediate", when the "simple",
> "intuitive", "beginner" but "mediocre" UI is so darn
> "appealing", "conventional", and "safe".
>
> Sandeep

Comments

13 Aug 2004 - 8:23pm
Mark Canlas
2003

I see this as kinda different. In the previous example (by Sandeep), the
beginner and advanced methods of reaching the IP address are physically
different. One involving the command line, the other involving menus and
clicks.

In James's example of pie menus, the "advanced" method of input is a direct
subset of the "beginner" method. Physically, the user need only, for
example, click, right, down, release. But a beginner might click-release,
gaze at the menu, click right, look again, and then click down.

I guess, yeah, interfaces like this are ideal, where the passage way from
beginner to advanced is direct. But I don't think it represents all forms of
interaction.

Now it's getting me to think, how would one obtain their IP address in the
manner described below (direct passage between beginner and expert)?

Mark Canlas
http://www.htmlism.com/mark/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-interactiondesigners.com-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf
> Of James A. Landay
> Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 6:55 PM
> To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome
>
> This is a great comment and it is funny that I just wrote about something
> very similar on my (new) blog this morning (see
> http://dubfuture.blogspot.com/). I was complaining about how Microsoft
> chose
> not to put a pen-centric UI on the TabletPC and instead chose a very
> incremental change over the standard desktop GUI. The main problem was
> because of learning and the necessary transitioning between the two UIs.
>
> The best example of I know of seamlessly moving from a novice interface to
> an expert interface is with Kurtenbach & Buxton's Marking Menus (see the
> above blog for links). In Marking Menus, the novice sees a normal pop-up
> pie menu (like a standard GUI, though circular menus are standard). If one
> moves through the menu interaction (right button down, move in direction
> of
> selection, release) fast, the menu never even displays. So, as the user
> gets
> more advanced and faster with this interaction, their normal practice
> moves
> them to the expert UI seamlessly.
>
> ---
> James A. Landay
> Associate Professor
> Department of Computer Science & Engineering
> University of Washington
> 642 Allen Center, Box 352350
> Seattle, WA 98195-2350
> landay at cs.washington.edu
> http://cs.washington.edu/homes/landay
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:00:39 -0700 (PDT)
> > From: Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com>
> > Subject: [ID Discuss] "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome
> >[cut excess]
> > Moral of story:
> >
> > Going back to a topic many months ago, how does one
> > balance simplicity for the simpleton and mediocrity
> > for the majority of user? I am constantly hounded by
> > this dilemma, in my designs. How can IxD transition a
> > beginner UI to a intermediate UI? Doesn't the
> > beginner UI train the user in bad habits, that will
> > prevent the user from increasing skills?
> >
> > Please give examples of UIs that have succeeded in
> > solving this problem. Thanks.
> >
> > The second question: how to convince management to
> > allow a functionality to be designed in 2 modes:
> > "beginner" and "intermediate", when the "simple",
> > "intuitive", "beginner" but "mediocre" UI is so darn
> > "appealing", "conventional", and "safe".
> >
> > Sandeep
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
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16 Aug 2004 - 11:33am
Robert Reimann
2003

Hi Sandeep, et al,

To agree (I think) with James, I think the part of the problem is
in conceiving of the "beginner UI" and "intermediate UI" as distinct
interfaces rather than as a single interface with a range
of discoverable options.

I think we all agree that most people who use a product on a regular
basis soon reach a degree of intermediate skill with the product.
But to get there, they need to pass through that beginner phase
successfully.
Thus, most products that endeavor to support frequent use should
be designed to get beginners to the intermediate level as quickly as
possible, while optimizing for the capabilities and needs of intermediates.

This implies that the most used functions need to conform closely
to user mental models (or appropriate conventions, but I believe that
designs that really match the mental model can bend conventions). These
functions also may need to have a discoverable method of use that optimizes
for efficiency in context-- but without getting mired in expert
functionality (e.g., dozens of configurable parameters or command lines).
If you must address expert needs, those functions should be made
available with additional (commensurate) effort, so that they do not
intrude on the experience of beginners and intermediates.

By making tasks that intermediates need to do as simple and straightforward
as possible, you may find that they are already easy enough for beginners to
master (though this may not apply to completely neophyte computer users).
This was the case for a medical information system I helped design:
the client had initially estimated 2 weeks of user training would be
necessary,
but when it was piloted in the field, they found that only a single week or
less
was required, due to its "intuitive" design. The project is described in
this AIGA-ED case study:

http://www.aiga.org/resources/content/7/6/2/documents/FORUM_calde_case_03210
2.pdf

The way this was accomplished was not via any single particular interaction
paradigm, but rather through designing interfaces that truly matched
the needs and expectations of the users, and which provided critical
information with a minimum of effort.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

Bose Corporation
The Mountain
Framingham, MA 01701

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of James A. Landay
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 6:55 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome

This is a great comment and it is funny that I just wrote about something
very similar on my (new) blog this morning (see
http://dubfuture.blogspot.com/). I was complaining about how Microsoft chose
not to put a pen-centric UI on the TabletPC and instead chose a very
incremental change over the standard desktop GUI. The main problem was
because of learning and the necessary transitioning between the two UIs.

The best example of I know of seamlessly moving from a novice interface to
an expert interface is with Kurtenbach & Buxton's Marking Menus (see the
above blog for links). In Marking Menus, the novice sees a normal pop-up
pie menu (like a standard GUI, though circular menus are standard). If one
moves through the menu interaction (right button down, move in direction of
selection, release) fast, the menu never even displays. So, as the user gets
more advanced and faster with this interaction, their normal practice moves
them to the expert UI seamlessly.

---
James A. Landay
Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science & Engineering
University of Washington
642 Allen Center, Box 352350
Seattle, WA 98195-2350
landay at cs.washington.edu
http://cs.washington.edu/homes/landay

> -----Original Message-----
> Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:00:39 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com>
> Subject: [ID Discuss] "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome [cut
>excess] Moral of story:
>
> Going back to a topic many months ago, how does one
> balance simplicity for the simpleton and mediocrity
> for the majority of user? I am constantly hounded by
> this dilemma, in my designs. How can IxD transition a beginner UI to
> a intermediate UI? Doesn't the beginner UI train the user in bad
> habits, that will prevent the user from increasing skills?
>
> Please give examples of UIs that have succeeded in
> solving this problem. Thanks.
>
> The second question: how to convince management to
> allow a functionality to be designed in 2 modes:
> "beginner" and "intermediate", when the "simple", "intuitive",
> "beginner" but "mediocre" UI is so darn "appealing", "conventional",
> and "safe".
>
> Sandeep

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discuss at ixdg.org
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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.ixdg.org/
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16 Aug 2004 - 2:32pm
sandeepblues
2003

Good points.

I am still uncomfortable with the fact that the bar
for a beginner is set so low (or has been by
convention and legacy) that a *lot* of time is spent
conforming to those UI standards when designing an
application. This has been stated by someone in a
previous response in this thread as well. I bemoan
the fact that the majority of time is spent making the
design simple for the beginner, very little is spent
in designing for the intermediate. The mnemonics
example is an easy one, but the result of a mnemonic
intermediate interaction, is yet again, for
example, a beginner dialog. If you were to list the
design features of any app., you will get a long list
of things that conform to the beginner's interests,
and a short list of quick ways to navigate to those
features. There are times where something could be
*entirely* differently and be *far* more beneficial
for the intermediate user, than the "bridge" between
beginner and intermediate designs approach.

And, when we talk about changing the "lower" bar, we
seem to talk about big things like changing the
desktop metaphor etc etc. I am interested in what
might be the new "bar" for the modern users. People
have become intermediate users of some WIMP designs,
and are now beginners to a new app. that is presented
to them.

Sandeep

--- "Reimann, Robert" <Robert_Reimann at bose.com> wrote:

>
> Hi Sandeep, et al,
>
> To agree (I think) with James, I think the part of
> the problem is
> in conceiving of the "beginner UI" and "intermediate
> UI" as distinct
> interfaces rather than as a single interface with a
> range
> of discoverable options.
>
> I think we all agree that most people who use a
> product on a regular
> basis soon reach a degree of intermediate skill with
> the product.
> But to get there, they need to pass through that
> beginner phase
> successfully.
> Thus, most products that endeavor to support
> frequent use should
> be designed to get beginners to the intermediate
> level as quickly as
> possible, while optimizing for the capabilities and
> needs of intermediates.
>
> This implies that the most used functions need to
> conform closely
> to user mental models (or appropriate conventions,
> but I believe that
> designs that really match the mental model can bend
> conventions). These
> functions also may need to have a discoverable
> method of use that optimizes
> for efficiency in context-- but without getting
> mired in expert
> functionality (e.g., dozens of configurable
> parameters or command lines).
> If you must address expert needs, those functions
> should be made
> available with additional (commensurate) effort, so
> that they do not
> intrude on the experience of beginners and
> intermediates.
>
> By making tasks that intermediates need to do as
> simple and straightforward
> as possible, you may find that they are already easy
> enough for beginners to
> master (though this may not apply to completely
> neophyte computer users).
> This was the case for a medical information system I
> helped design:
> the client had initially estimated 2 weeks of user
> training would be
> necessary,
> but when it was piloted in the field, they found
> that only a single week or
> less
> was required, due to its "intuitive" design. The
> project is described in
> this AIGA-ED case study:
>
>
http://www.aiga.org/resources/content/7/6/2/documents/FORUM_calde_case_03210
> 2.pdf
>
> The way this was accomplished was not via any single
> particular interaction
> paradigm, but rather through designing interfaces
> that truly matched
> the needs and expectations of the users, and which
> provided critical
> information with a minimum of effort.
>
> Robert.
>
> ---
>
> Robert Reimann
> Manager, User Interface Design
> Bose Design Center
>
> Bose Corporation
> The Mountain
> Framingham, MA 01701
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
> com] On Behalf Of James A. Landay
> Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 6:55 PM
> To:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be
> cumbersome
>
>
> This is a great comment and it is funny that I just
> wrote about something
> very similar on my (new) blog this morning (see
> http://dubfuture.blogspot.com/). I was complaining
> about how Microsoft chose
> not to put a pen-centric UI on the TabletPC and
> instead chose a very
> incremental change over the standard desktop GUI.
> The main problem was
> because of learning and the necessary transitioning
> between the two UIs.
>
> The best example of I know of seamlessly moving from
> a novice interface to
> an expert interface is with Kurtenbach & Buxton's
> Marking Menus (see the
> above blog for links). In Marking Menus, the novice
> sees a normal pop-up
> pie menu (like a standard GUI, though circular menus
> are standard). If one
> moves through the menu interaction (right button
> down, move in direction of
> selection, release) fast, the menu never even
> displays. So, as the user gets
> more advanced and faster with this interaction,
> their normal practice moves
> them to the expert UI seamlessly.
>
> ---
> James A. Landay
> Associate Professor
> Department of Computer Science & Engineering
> University of Washington
> 642 Allen Center, Box 352350
> Seattle, WA 98195-2350
> landay at cs.washington.edu
> http://cs.washington.edu/homes/landay
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:00:39 -0700 (PDT)
> > From: Sandeep Jain <sandeepblues at yahoo.com>
> > Subject: [ID Discuss] "Intuitive" designs can be
> cumbersome [cut
> >excess] Moral of story:
> >
> > Going back to a topic many months ago, how does
> one
> > balance simplicity for the simpleton and
> mediocrity
> > for the majority of user? I am constantly hounded
> by
> > this dilemma, in my designs. How can IxD
> transition a beginner UI to
> > a intermediate UI? Doesn't the beginner UI train
> the user in bad
> > habits, that will prevent the user from increasing
> skills?
> >
> > Please give examples of UIs that have succeeded in
> > solving this problem. Thanks.
> >
> > The second question: how to convince management to
> > allow a functionality to be designed in 2 modes:
> > "beginner" and "intermediate", when the "simple",
> "intuitive",
> > "beginner" but "mediocre" UI is so darn
> "appealing", "conventional",
> > and "safe".
> >
> > Sandeep
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members
> get announcements already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members
> get announcements already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>

17 Aug 2004 - 9:13am
Dave Collins
2004

>previous response in this thread as well. I bemoan
the fact that the majority of time is spent making the
design simple for the beginner, very little is spent
in designing for the intermediate. The mnemonics

Blame it on a fast-paced society mired in information overload. When it
comes to software, a large majority, for most of the time, are perpetual
beginners. Who has time to become fluent at anything anymore before
you're on to the next application, project, job or even career? Who
*wants* to become fluent when the computers or even the medium will be
different tomorrow? We live in a "publish and purge" age.

Not a preference, merely resigned to it.

Dave

17 Aug 2004 - 10:00am
Mark Canlas
2003

I dunno, I don't see that as being obvious to a complete beginner or the
preferred method of finding it out quickly, for an expert or power user. I
know all of my friends know enough about the command line to just type in
ipconfig.

Besides, not everyone has the network icon configured to appear on the
taskbar. Or it might be hidden.

*sigh* So many variables in interaction... I don't know how designers keep
up. But I guess that's the fun part, working in such a dynamic environment.

Mark Canlas
http://www.htmlism.com/mark/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David_Levine at McAfee.com [mailto:David_Levine at McAfee.com]
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 5:44 PM
> To: mark at htmlism.com
> Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome
>
> > Now it's getting me to think, how would one obtain their IP address in
>
> > the manner described below (direct passage between beginner and
> expert)?
>
> In Windows XP?
>
> 1. Double-click on the network icon in the Taskbar. The network
> interface's Status dialog appears.
> 2. Click on the Support tab, which displays the IP, subnet, and gateway
> addresses.
>
> This avoids the whole beginner/expert thing by providing a
> straightforward interface for all. (Though the tab name "Support" is
> absurd.)
>
> - David D. Levine, Sr. User Interface Engineer
> David_Levine at mcafee.com

17 Aug 2004 - 10:25am
Dave Collins
2004

Just for a different perspective, my experience with difficulties in
software use have less to do with the interface per se, than with
understanding what I'm doing in the larger context.

The first assumption made in the interface design you describe is that
the user knows exactly what an IP address is, what it is used for, why
he wants it, and what he's going to do to it once he gets there.

Sure, the interface works *if* that's true. But how does the interface
help them to arrive at that point in the first place?

And that's almost always where I fall down. I usually just know
something's wrong and something needs to be done, but I don't know where
to start. I don't have the vocabulary or the "gestalt" of the system. Is
this a security issue? A network issue? An O/S issue? A config issue? Do
I care? It's just a label. And the controls are always labelled in a
manner that assumes you know exactly what you want.

For me, the first interaction is to grapple with the context.

Dave

I dunno, I don't see that as being obvious to a complete beginner or the
preferred method of finding it out quickly, for an expert or power user.
I
know all of my friends know enough about the command line to just type
in
ipconfig.

Besides, not everyone has the network icon configured to appear on the
taskbar. Or it might be hidden.

*sigh* So many variables in interaction... I don't know how designers
keep
up. But I guess that's the fun part, working in such a dynamic
environment.

Mark Canlas
http://www.htmlism.com/mark/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David_Levine at McAfee.com [mailto:David_Levine at McAfee.com]
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 5:44 PM
> To: mark at htmlism.com
> Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome
>
> > Now it's getting me to think, how would one obtain their IP address
in
>
> > the manner described below (direct passage between beginner and
> expert)?
>
> In Windows XP?
>
> 1. Double-click on the network icon in the Taskbar. The network
> interface's Status dialog appears.
> 2. Click on the Support tab, which displays the IP, subnet, and
gateway
> addresses.
>
> This avoids the whole beginner/expert thing by providing a
> straightforward interface for all. (Though the tab name "Support" is
> absurd.)

16 Aug 2004 - 3:01pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I would just like to offer TurboTax as a GUI that works really well for
beginners and experts alike. The more I use it the more I like it and I
don't see the GUI "changing" as I become more comfy with it; so, in reality
there is ONLY one GUI.

-- dave

17 Aug 2004 - 11:07am
Svoboda, Eric
2004

TurboTax online is great - I agree. A friendly wizard for and
easy-to-follow train. I also love the "advisor" feature (I don't
remember exactly what they call it) whereby one click has one of their
advisors calling you directly to offer "contextual" help. Fantastic.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of David Heller
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 3:01 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs can be cumbersome

I would just like to offer TurboTax as a GUI that works really well for
beginners and experts alike. The more I use it the more I like it and I
don't see the GUI "changing" as I become more comfy with it; so, in
reality there is ONLY one GUI.

-- dave

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17 Aug 2004 - 12:41pm
sandeepblues
2003

TurboTax is great. Given that this is a once a year
activity, few of us are truly intermediate each year.
In addition, few of us are domain experts in taxes.

So, here is a hypothetical situation -

Let's say that I have a huge extended family, and I
happen to do taxes every year for all 20 working
adults...because they just don't want to deal with it.
Perhaps, after the 3rd tax submission, I will become
a intermediate user of TurboTax. At this point, how
about the following:

Prompt the user to bring all forms for a particular
individual, and fill in all the different information
in initial forms, without giving any tax-ual context
or have any wizards. What this does for me is that I
don't keep having to go back and forth between the
screen and finding and looking up the papers. Then,
perhaps, I would like to step through the wizards
viewing all the info. I just entered in the context of
tax laws etc. Or maybe not, if I feel experienced
enough.

Sandeep

--- "Svoboda, Eric" <Eric.Svoboda at maritz.com> wrote:

> TurboTax online is great - I agree. A friendly
> wizard for and
> easy-to-follow train. I also love the "advisor"
> feature (I don't
> remember exactly what they call it) whereby one
> click has one of their
> advisors calling you directly to offer "contextual"
> help. Fantastic.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
> ers.com] On Behalf Of David Heller
> Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 3:01 PM
> To:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Re: "Intuitive" designs
> can be cumbersome
>
> I would just like to offer TurboTax as a GUI that
> works really well for
> beginners and experts alike. The more I use it the
> more I like it and I
> don't see the GUI "changing" as I become more comfy
> with it; so, in
> reality there is ONLY one GUI.
>
> -- dave
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members
> get announcements
> already) http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
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23 Aug 2004 - 12:37pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Dave Collins <DCollins at phoenix-interactive.com> writes:

>Blame it on a fast-paced society mired in information overload. When it
>comes to software, a large majority, for most of the time, are perpetual
>beginners. Who has time to become fluent at anything anymore before
>you're on to the next application, project, job or even career? Who
>*wants* to become fluent when the computers or even the medium will be
>different tomorrow?

I doubt there's any valid effect there. No one who is sub-fluent is
able to be cognizant of the ongoing pace of change, I think. They
aren't surfing on top of the waves from one to the next; they're
scared spitless about the 7 footer about to crash onto them to worry
whether there's an 8-foot wave coming right behind it.
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 08/20)

23 Aug 2004 - 4:28pm
Dave Collins
2004

>Blame it on a fast-paced society mired in information overload. When it
>comes to software, a large majority, for most of the time, are
perpetual
>beginners. Who has time to become fluent at anything anymore before
>you're on to the next application, project, job or even career? Who
>*wants* to become fluent when the computers or even the medium will be
>different tomorrow?

I doubt there's any valid effect there. No one who is sub-fluent is
able to be cognizant of the ongoing pace of change, I think. They
aren't surfing on top of the waves from one to the next; they're
scared spitless about the 7 footer about to crash onto them to worry
whether there's an 8-foot wave coming right behind it.
--

?
You think that users who only have a base-knowledge of the products they
use are not fully ware of the potential for tomorrow to have something
new thrust upon them? Or am I misunderstanding?

I think there's a lot of users out there who don't *want* to be using
computers, but ride the surf of their organization's technology & s/w
whims anyway. Not every computer user is a savvy new media industry
cowboy...

27 Aug 2004 - 1:58pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Dave Collins <DCollins at phoenix-interactive.com> writes:

>> >Blame it on a fast-paced society mired in information overload. When it
>> >comes to software, a large majority, for most of the time, are perpetual
>> >beginners. Who has time to become fluent at anything anymore before
>> >you're on to the next application, project, job or even career? Who
>> >*wants* to become fluent when the computers or even the medium will be
>> >different tomorrow?
>>
>>I doubt there's any valid effect there. No one who is sub-fluent is
>>able to be cognizant of the ongoing pace of change, I think. They
>>aren't surfing on top of the waves from one to the next; they're
>>scared spitless about the 7 footer about to crash onto them to worry
>>whether there's an 8-foot wave coming right behind it.
>
>?
>You think that users who only have a base-knowledge of the products they
>use are not fully ware of the potential for tomorrow to have something
>new thrust upon them? Or am I misunderstanding?

Sorry, I was only concentrating on the last sentence you had written
there, that some people don't even want to try to become fluent in
the software they use because they believe that it will all change in
the near future.

To be sure, there probably are a small subset of user who are like
that, most probably because they've suffered "bungee management
initiatives" (to steal from Dilbert), where "Use this software" is
the rule today, but "Use that software" will be the rule next week.
They have no interest in becoming fluent -- in approaching "power
user" status -- because experience says that they won't have the time.

I think most sub-fluent users -- those who are somewhere between
newbie and power user -- are not really cognizant that change comes
at them wave after wave, forcing them to revise their environment,
knowledge, and workflow on a repeated basis. And indeed, look at the
companies which have stabilized on Windows 98 with Office 97 and will
only change when those systems physically stop working. Those people
have little clue that change can come, and when it does, it hits them
like a wall of water and they try to not drown; few of them conceive
that they could swim or surf and not have to fight the next wave so
hard, because they didn't even know the first wave was coming.

Sub-Fluent: Cribbing terms from Square Dancing is useful here. They
break things up into levels: Basic, Mainstream, Plus, Advanced, and
Challenge. Sub-Fluent users are what I would match to Mainstream
square dancing: they know all the building blocks, but only enough to
get the job done, and they can't recognize a lot of patterns and
repeated concepts. A whole lot of people dance at Mainstream level
and are perfectly happy doing so; some have no chance to move to Plus
("barely fluent"), some don't want to, and some don't even really
know such exists. There's nothing wrong with dancing at Mainstream,
but if a square dance caller wants you to do something more complex,
he or she has to coach the dancers pretty heavily.
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 08/20)

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