Is the iPhone hard to use? (was "We don't make consumer products, hence no need for a UCD development process.")

27 Aug 2009 - 3:05pm
4 years ago
10 replies
1579 reads
jayeffvee
2007

I now understand why I didn't find the control you mentioned - like
Kevin, my phone is not locked with a pass code. It does, however, do
some sort of locking thing when it falls asleep; a sweep of a thumb
unlocks it. The sweep is an unfamiliar motion to me, and so far even
in normal circumstances, I frequently botch it. Needing to sweep to
unlock is a step that still surprises me, too - just a little addition
to the cognitive load that was highly unwelcome last Sunday night.

I'll note that were your unlocking method to pertain to me, it takes
out three of the eleven steps I outlined, still making it hard to do
what I meant to accomplish. It also doesn't give me what my old phone
would give me, which is the assurance of being able to dial before
clearly committing to the call.

I'm sorry - I think that ease of learning and ease of use are not
completely separable qualities. I think the iPhone is hard to learn,
and therefore will remain for me hard to use until I get up to speed
with it. Until then, I think I'll stay in brightly lit areas when
unaccompanied by a friend.

On Aug 27, 2009, at 3:16 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>
> On Aug 27, 2009, at 12:00 PM, Jordan, Courtney wrote:
>
>> Andrei probably isn't one who worries about being stalked on dark
>> streets, thus his concept of something being easily usable (once one
>> knows something exists, where to look and is able to find it) isn't
>> typical of the female user who would probably more often need this
>> button (trying to be PC here).
>
> I'm purposefully did not respond to the situation or make value
> judgements on the scenario. I simply pointed out that the steps
> listed by Joan were in fact not accurate. I did this in hope that
> maybe Joan would reassess her scenario and compare apples to apples.
>
> To clarify, if your iPhone is locked (as listed in step #2 of Joan's
> scenario), in the bottom left corner of the passcode screen is a
> button that says "Emergency Call." Taping that button goes directly
> to the iPhone's keypad for making phone calls, where you can type
> 911 and hit the call button. This bypasses all of the steps Joan
> listed in her scenario. Now knowing this, the question becomes (for
> her) I think, whether she still thinks the iPhone is hard to use
> when compared to other phones.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>

Joan Vermette
email: jayeffvee at mac.com

Comments

27 Aug 2009 - 3:17pm
Nasir Barday
2006

Oooh, boy, this thread could get nice and juicy. See you guys after, oh,
post #53. I imagine there will be many blog-post-style posts after this one,
so I will only add this quote to the mix:

"There is nothing wrong with having to explain the principles of operation.
It is wrong only when that same explanation has to be given ... over and
over again." -- Don Norman

- N

27 Aug 2009 - 4:30pm
Jeff Howard
2004

The iPhone isn't easy to learn, but it's easy to teach. How many
people would have figured out swipe gestures for themselves, let
alone pinch gestures for resizing? The interface has no perceptual
affordances for these actions (aside from "slide to unlock").

But after a widespread, televised educational campaign and a legion
of early-adopter tutors were mobilized...

See also:
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/08/24/hate_my_iphone/index.html

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45113

27 Aug 2009 - 5:16pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

I've a friends daughter who is a toddler, and after playing with
mommies iPhone for a week, went straight up to the TV and tried to
swipe, pinch, etc.

On Aug 27, 2009, at 2:30 PM, Jeff Howard wrote:

> The iPhone isn't easy to learn, but it's easy to teach. How many
> people would have figured out swipe gestures for themselves, let
> alone pinch gestures for resizing? The interface has no perceptual
> affordances for these actions (aside from "slide to unlock").
>

27 Aug 2009 - 6:30pm
Dave Malouf
2005

1 of the things that gets me about this conversation is that it is
spoken about in terms of absolutes. "the iphone is not easy to
use."

really?

the entire device is "not easy to use"?

As to the specific scenario, I haven't checked but I wonder if the
new Voice command might be a way out for people who urgently and w/o
attention to small motor movements (with no haptic feedback) would
require.

I bet you could easily add a 911 entry to your contacts, and say,
"Dial 911" and it will do its thing! (I wonder if there is just not
a dial emergency command already embedded in the app. never checked
and don't want to test out of fear of getting arrested.

To the bigger issue on the distinction between learnability and
usability there are some other things to consider: discoverability -
can I find what it is to do?, "doability" - Once I know, can I
actually physically or mentally do it? (the ability to do the action,
ala Joan's inability to as of yet swipe with predictable results).

I think that repeatedly 2nd and 3rd level functionality (non-primary)
can be very difficult to discover and some unnecessarily so.

e.g. the way you get the map to turn in against your gps position is
not indicated. It actually only indicates as a button when you are IN
the mode, but not to get in it. I've actually always had this problem
w/ play/pause on iTunes, too. Should the icon be what I'm doing, or
what I can do?

In general though, my point is that this is not an all or nothing
type thing. Apple like every other development company has its
processes and procedures for testing (not necessarily user testing)
their ideas before they launch them. the question is, in the
balancing act between the many different elements of the iPhone, can
we really say it is "hard to use"?

If my toddler of 3 can already use it, I don't think we can make
that assumption.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45113

27 Aug 2009 - 6:40pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Live wrote:
> went straight up to the TV and tried to swipe, pinch, etc.

Did it work?

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45113

27 Aug 2009 - 8:01pm
AlokJain
2006

As you are thinking about different aspect of experience as opposed to
everything not being easy, consider following also:

http://looksgoodworkswell.blogspot.com/2009/08/renting-idiomatic-experience.htmlhttp://looksgoodworkswell.blogspot.com/2009/08/renting-idiomatic-experience.html

I think with any interface there is an element of familiarization.
This familiarization process needs to build on the patterns that have
been set in our mind from other experiences. Use of metaphors is one
of more direct applications of this but this plays a role in every
interaction.

iPhone does well in applying these patterns we have learnt in
physical but first time usage of this device still needs to tell user
that those methods are at play. I think Apple did a good job of this
with their commercials also, they we sort of infomercials. An now
that people are familiar with the device they have moved onto "there
is an app" for that kind of commercials.

I do not know if this was apple's strategy or not, but I think using
commercials to make potential users familiar with the device is quite
a nice thing, many would find it much more intuitive for the first
time use itself, just because they have become familiar with device
through the demos and commercials they have seen.

I do think there are may usability issues with iPhone also,
especially in navigation. I think the 3 core navigation elements -
top and bottom bar and the navigation back to springboard (home
button) are not very consistent and put more cognitive load then
required.

Cheers
AJ

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45113

27 Aug 2009 - 10:29pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

Well, obviously no, but it's fascinating to think that was such an
innate supposition once they had dealt so easily with one thing with a
screen; they expected all other screens to act as easily also.

On Aug 27, 2009, at 4:40 PM, Jeff Howard wrote:

> Live wrote:
>> went straight up to the TV and tried to swipe, pinch, etc.
>
> Did it work?
>
> // jeff
>

27 Aug 2009 - 4:55pm
David Drucker
2008

I think perhaps that the iPhone borrows from a number of computer-
centric and '1st generation iPod'-centric design patterns, and those
patterns can give you a leg up on learning it. The concept of a drill-
down (and down the hierarchy existing somewhere to the right) is an
iPod pattern. The idea that the google map acts the way it does
( scroll around by moving your hand the way a drag was on the mouse
was, as well as the fact that push-pins show mini-windows) is from the
computing pattern. The notion of a list where you click on a line to
select an item, or that you can see how far down a scroll on a
document is via the scroll-bar on the right side (although on the
iPhone OS, you only see that bar while scrolling and the 'thumb' is
more of an indicator than something to drag with) is from all desktop
OSs back to the first ones at Xerox PARC).

Some of the patterns seem to fall flat, though. I really dislike the
way the iPhone's Safari browser (and other apps) let you interact with
a dropdown (or as Mac-centric literature used to call it, a pop-up)
menu. It seems way too big and clumsy, and I keep wondering if there
might have been a slightly more elegant way to handle it (maybe there
isn't; I haven't given it a ton of thought).

Up till now, you didn't expect these sorts of patterns to show up on a
handheld device. However, does this make it easier to learn? Perhaps
not, especially if you don't carry those expectations and learnings
forward. However, it does mean that you can try to do more complicated
things. I'm continually amazed at how complex some of the interactions
we expect an iPhone to be doing. Taking a picture and posting it to a
web site, and maybe twittering to others to have a look at it with the
URL of the picture...Copying some text from a web page and pasting it
to a note...Mapping a destination and saving that pushpin location for
retrieval later...These are all pretty complicated multi-step tasks,
no matter what thing you are trying to do accomplish them with.

That said, there's something to be said for certain things (like
calling 911) should be dead easy. The lack of tactile feedback for
phone calls (among other things) has always been a problem, and in
this use case, it shows how a new user could benefit from some kind of
mechanism for handling this situation. There might be an opportunity
for a 3rd party, but here I think it's more a matter of Apple perhaps
reexamining that issue, and either making a special 'Panic Button'
feature using the physical buttons (and an 'Are You Sure' mechanism
that keeps you from hitting this function too easily by accident).
Maybe a way of holding two buttons and saying 'Help' into the phone
might do it, now that the newer phones have voice-dialing capabilities.

(Btw, Joan, glad to hear that you are OK, but that sounded pretty
scary!)

--
David Drucker
david at drucker.ca

28 Aug 2009 - 10:06am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 27 Aug 2009, at 16:30, dave malouf wrote:

> 1 of the things that gets me about this conversation is that it is
> spoken about in terms of absolutes. "the iphone is not easy to
> use."

Aye.

I keep wanting to add "compare to..." on the end.

Adrian

--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

28 Aug 2009 - 5:12pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Aug 27, 2009, at 4:05 PM, Joan Vermette wrote:

> I think the iPhone is hard to learn, and therefore will remain for
> me hard to use until I get up to speed with it.

After one week?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

Syndicate content Get the feed