Friday, March 25, 2011

User Friendly?

Recently I had to show someone how to use a very simple piece of electronics. As I was demonstrating the two step process I realized it should not require two steps to do what that person wanted but only one step.

Often it seems that the people capable of developing things are not the people who really understand the end users. Case in point, traffic flow patterns decided by civil engineers because civil engineers know how to build roads. I know a lot of civil engineers and they are very good at what they engineer and build, but ultimately they think differently than the average driver. I don't know who would be better at designing traffic flow patterns but I am sure that some profession would be. Another example, computer programs are all written by computer programers. Again programers are great at making things work and getting software to do what I want, but sometimes it seems like the person using the software was an afterthought to the purpose of the software. The Janzen Gear ice axe was in many ways a lesson for me about the whole just-because-you-can-doesn't-mean-you-should aspect of industry.

If you are ever in the position to create a product that will be used by people, keep user friendliness in mind. After using dozens of software programs and driving tens of thousands of miles I feel we can do better. That of course starts with me since I try not to be a hippocrite all of the time. If I ever make something and you can not figure out how to use it, let me know and I shall change it. If we all make our products just a little more user friendly just imagine where we will go.

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