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1720[agile-usability] user expertise and progressive usage (was RE: norman)

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  • Larry Constantine
    Nov 2, 2005
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      Jon Kern wrote:
      ----------
      a valuable addition to something like Word would be the magic customizer
      slider (that i have invented in my head for years when i was building a very
      complex, somewhat horrid at times UI in the incarnation of TogetherSoft's
      ControlCenter UML modeling tool) that would allow features to go from novice
      to power user in terms of: visibility and depth and degree of user control.
      ----------

      It's cute, been proposed many times by many people in one form or another,
      but whether it's a slider or a series of radio button, it turns out to be a
      bad idea.

      (1) A user is not across the board novice, intermediate, or expert in
      interaction style, but varies from one part of the UI to another. Typical
      users are improving intermediates for the 10-20% of the UI they use fairly
      regularly, expert for a few percent of over-learned features, and novices
      for the remaining bulk. But that changes over time and even with respect to
      what they are using the system for at a given moment.

      (2) Having the entire configuration of the user interface change because the
      user slips the slider up or down a notch is extremely disruptive user
      experience.

      (3) Most users do not actually know at what level they are operating or what
      they should tell the system. Even making the choice on setup causes great
      anxiety, as many users fear that if they set the level too low, they will be
      prevented from doing things but if they set it too high they will be
      overwhelmed. Interestingly, when allowed to choose between so-called short
      menus (with reduced options and only basic features) and full menus, the
      vast majority of users prefer long menus.

      A far better approach is based on the progressive usage model (the ski-slope
      model, as it is sometimes known) which supports continuous and incremental
      in-context adaptation of the UI by users to fit evolving interaction style
      and level of expertise. (Covered in our book and several papers.)

      --Larry Constantine, IDSA
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