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RE: norman

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  • Michael Andrews
    Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive. It assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be. In this
    Message 1 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
      Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive. It
      assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be. In
      this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered approaches a
      contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they *should* behave
      toward technology, instead of how they actually do, and how they can
      comfortably adapt.


      Michael Andrews
      User Innovation
      Unlocking IT's value

      (021) 739-189
      PO Box 17190
      Wellington
      website: www.user-innovation.com
    • Donna Maurer
      Wow! That s a big call. I have read some criticism that user-centred design has a user-as-victim/designer-as- saviour mentality but really, a contempt for
      Message 2 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
        Wow! That's a big call.

        I have read some criticism that user-centred design has a user-as-victim/designer-as-
        saviour mentality but really, a contempt for users? Who have you worked with or what
        have you read that makes you believe that? Contempt is a strong, deep emotion and I
        have never met a designer who has contempt for people.


        Donna


        On 31 Oct 2005 at 21:09, Michael Andrews wrote:

        > Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive.
        > It assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might
        > be. In this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered
        > approaches a contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they
        > *should* behave toward technology, instead of how they actually do,
        > and how they can comfortably adapt.
        >
        >
        > Michael Andrews
        > User Innovation
        > Unlocking IT's value
        >
        > (021) 739-189
        > PO Box 17190
        > Wellington
        > website: www.user-innovation.com
        >
        --
        Donna Maurer
        Maadmob Interaction Design

        e: donna@...
        work: http://maadmob.com.au/
        blog: http://maadmob.net/donna/blog/
        AOL IM: maadmob
      • Ron Jeffries
        ... I can think of at least one book, written by a designer, that shows contempt for programmers, many of whom are people. ;- Ron Jeffries
        Message 3 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
          On Monday, October 31, 2005, at 1:41:07 AM, Donna Maurer wrote:

          > I have read some criticism that user-centred design has a user-as-victim/designer-as-
          > saviour mentality but really, a contempt for users? Who have you worked with or what
          > have you read that makes you believe that? Contempt is a strong, deep emotion and I
          > have never met a designer who has contempt for people.

          I can think of at least one book, written by a designer, that shows
          contempt for programmers, many of whom are people. ;->

          Ron Jeffries
          www.XProgramming.com
          You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure,
          what you do not understand. --Leonardo da Vinci
        • Donna Maurer
          OK, yes, there are some user centred design books that show significant contempt for programmers. They make me uncomfortable - I have met some programmers who
          Message 4 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
            OK, yes, there are some user centred design books that show significant contempt for
            programmers. They make me uncomfortable - I have met some programmers who are
            relatively human ;) (OK, I don't mean that!) I should have said "I have never met a
            designer who has contempt for users"

            Donna



            On 31 Oct 2005 at 1:57, Ron Jeffries wrote:

            > I can think of at least one book, written by a designer, that shows
            > contempt for programmers, many of whom are people. ;->
            >
            > Ron Jeffries
            > www.XProgramming.com
            > You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure,
            > what you do not understand. --Leonardo da Vinci
            >
            >
            --
            Donna Maurer
            Maadmob Interaction Design

            e: donna@...
            work: http://maadmob.com.au/
            blog: http://maadmob.net/donna/blog/
            AOL IM: maadmob
          • Ash Donaldson
            ... Actually, that¹s not what Activity Theory is about ­ it¹s very user driven ­ but at a group level, as opposed to a personal level. Don Norman wasn¹t
            Message 5 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
              Re: [agile-usability] RE: norman On 31/10/05 7:09 PM, "Michael Andrews" <michael@...> wrote:
              Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive.  It
              assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be.  In
              this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered approaches a
              contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they *should* behave
              toward technology, instead of how they actually do, and how they can
              comfortably adapt.

              Actually, that’s not what Activity Theory is about – it’s very user driven – but at a group level, as opposed to a personal level.  Don Norman wasn’t directly quoting Activity Theory (he obviously only has a passing knowledge of the area), the object of his essay was to drive better solutions by getting designers to stop and question their methods.   

              It’s naïve to think that design requirements can be completely user-centred at such a granular level.  It’s important, but it must be understood that users will behave in a certain fashion until they interact with a new artefact, at which point their behaviour can be altered at multiple levels (the organisation, social groups, personally, job design and function, etc).  There’s a balance between knowing the user and predicting how they will adapt to a new design.  As a designer, Activity Theory can potentially assist in predicting how those behaviours will change by modelling the complex interaction of social distributed activity systems (subject, object, community, rules, tools and division of labour).  It gets designers to take a step back and look at the activities and motivations of a person as part of a group.

              Cheers,

              Ash Donaldson
              OZCHI 2005 Conference Chair
              chair@...

              OZCHI 2005
              Citizens Online: Considerations for today & the future
              www.ozchi.org


            • Desilets, Alain
              I can think of at least one book, written by a designer, that shows contempt for programmers, many of whom are people. ;- -- Alain: Might that be the one that
              Message 6 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
                I can think of at least one book, written by a designer, that shows
                contempt for programmers, many of whom are people. ;->

                -- Alain:
                Might that be the one that was written by an ex-programmer ;-)?
                ----
              • Larry Constantine
                ... Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive. It assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be. In this
                Message 7 of 21 , Oct 31, 2005
                  Michael Andrews wrote:
                  ----------
                  Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive. It
                  assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be. In
                  this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered approaches a
                  contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they *should* behave
                  toward technology, instead of how they actually do, and how they can
                  comfortably adapt.
                  ----------

                  With regards to usage-centered design, of which I was the co-developer, this
                  is absolutely, unequivocally, and totally wrong. Nothing I have written or
                  said has ever suggested that users should conform to the technology. Quite
                  the contrary, our approach is to try for the closest possible fit to what
                  users actually do and how they do it and to support users with the best
                  possible tools to suit their needs and intentions.

                  If I sound offended, it is because I am. I have made a career of designing
                  systems that better adapt to users and to teaching others how to do the
                  same. Whether there is any truth to what you say about scenario-driven or
                  activity-centered design is another issue, but with regards to
                  usage-centered design it is complete and utter garbage.

                  --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                • Jon Kern
                  aww... come on people, don t be getting your shorts in a bunch ... Microsoft takes the low road when it comes to demonstrating apparently commercially
                  Message 8 of 21 , Nov 1, 2005
                    aww... come on people, don't be getting your shorts in a bunch <g>...

                    Microsoft takes the low road when it comes to demonstrating apparently commercially successful software applications that have horrid user interfaces that expose technology and, IMHO, show contempt for users. Despite their best HCI design efforts from their research teams, I might add. Try out the Word Save dialog as exposed here.
                    -- jon
                    
                    


                    Larry Constantine said the following on 10/31/2005 2:33 PM:
                    Michael Andrews wrote:
                    ----------
                    Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive.  It
                    assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be.  In
                    this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered approaches a
                    contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they *should* behave
                    toward technology, instead of how they actually do, and how they can
                    comfortably adapt.
                    ----------

                    With regards to usage-centered design, of which I was the co-developer, this
                    is absolutely, unequivocally, and totally wrong. Nothing I have written or
                    said has ever suggested that users should conform to the technology. Quite
                    the contrary, our approach is to try for the closest possible fit to what
                    users actually do and how they do it and to support users with the best
                    possible tools to suit their needs and intentions.

                    If I sound offended, it is because I am. I have made a career of designing
                    systems that better adapt to users and to teaching others how to do the
                    same. Whether there is any truth to what you say about scenario-driven or
                    activity-centered design is another issue, but with regards to
                    usage-centered design it is complete and utter garbage.

                    --Larry Constantine, IDSA


                  • Jade Ohlhauser
                    You have some good points, but I think you re being too harsh on poor Microsoft. Have you used OneNote? It s a great application and finally someone has
                    Message 9 of 21 , Nov 1, 2005
                      You have some good points, but I think you're being too harsh on poor Microsoft. Have you used OneNote? It's a great application and finally someone has executed the idea of not having a save dialog at all in a major, useful application.
                       
                      I too am boggled by the inclusion of favorites and history in the Office save dialog, but as is often the case with UI criticism, you seem to be focusing solely on the bad here. There are definite missteps, but saying the UI is horrid? Word is one application that I've found most people seem to do OK with, and in the grand scheme of computer use, that's saying a lot. Despite the confusing flaws so apparent to us, millions of people manage to overcome the obstacles in Word every day. And I have respect and pity for Microsoft UI people not because of that accomplishment, but because of the legacy burden that unprecedented install base presents to making changes and the wide range of tasks it means trying to solve.
                       
                      I've personally encountered this sort of dilemma with our product. We make a questionable design choice, then a version or two later after all the threatening email and painful user studies we've come up with a better way. But just the act of changing the bad functionality may be worse. And somehow trying to support both ways may be yet even worse. Damned if you do...
                       
                      Anyway, so I don't come off sounding like a Microsoft apologist, let me finish with a stab at what's next: I've been using Internet Explorer 7 betas for testing and the way they're (finally) doing tabbed browsing is just wrong. Please just copy Firefox, Microsoft, it's better and it's what people expect you to do anyway.
                       
                      Jade Ohlhauser
                      Product Manager
                      RPM Software                                 
                      www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                       


                      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Kern
                      Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 5:55 AM
                      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [agile-usability] RE: norman

                      aww... come on people, don't be getting your shorts in a bunch <g>...

                      Microsoft takes the low road when it comes to demonstrating apparently commercially successful software applications that have horrid user interfaces that expose technology and, IMHO, show contempt for users. Despite their best HCI design efforts from their research teams, I might add. Try out the Word Save dialog as exposed here.
                      -- jon
                      
                      


                      Larry Constantine said the following on 10/31/2005 2:33 PM:
                      Michael Andrews wrote:
                      ----------
                      Activity theory driven design is not user driven, it is user adaptive.  It
                      assumes users will adapt to technology, regardless how bad it might be.  In
                      this respect, it shares with scenario and usage centered approaches a
                      contempt for users, expecting them to conform to how they *should* behave
                      toward technology, instead of how they actually do, and how they can
                      comfortably adapt.
                      ----------

                      With regards to usage-centered design, of which I was the co-developer, this
                      is absolutely, unequivocally, and totally wrong. Nothing I have written or
                      said has ever suggested that users should conform to the technology. Quite
                      the contrary, our approach is to try for the closest possible fit to what
                      users actually do and how they do it and to support users with the best
                      possible tools to suit their needs and intentions.

                      If I sound offended, it is because I am. I have made a career of designing
                      systems that better adapt to users and to teaching others how to do the
                      same. Whether there is any truth to what you say about scenario-driven or
                      activity-centered design is another issue, but with regards to
                      usage-centered design it is complete and utter garbage.

                      --Larry Constantine, IDSA


                    • Ash Donaldson
                      ... In much the same way, people overcome the extreme difficulty of learning to become a pilot, play the piano, or setting up their new, unusable stereo
                      Message 10 of 21 , Nov 1, 2005
                        Re: [agile-usability] RE: norman On 2/11/05 2:12 AM, "Jade Ohlhauser" <jade@...> wrote:
                        You have some good points, but I think you're being too harsh on poor Microsoft. Have you used OneNote? It's a great application and finally someone has executed the idea of not having a save dialog at all in a major, useful application.

                        I too am boggled by the inclusion of favorites and history in the Office save dialog, but as is often the case with UI criticism, you seem to be focusing solely on the bad here. There are definite missteps, but saying the UI is horrid? Word is one application that I've found most people seem to do OK with, and in the grand scheme of computer use, that's saying a lot. Despite the confusing flaws so apparent to us, millions of people manage to overcome the obstacles in Word every day. And I have respect and pity for Microsoft UI people not because of that accomplishment, but because of the legacy burden that unprecedented install base presents to making changes and the wide range of tasks it means trying to solve.

                        In much the same way, people overcome the extreme difficulty of learning to become a pilot, play the piano, or setting up their new, unusable stereo system.  This is where the key word of “motivation” comes into play.  Something doesn’t have to be usable, engaging, or even good for millions of people to use it.  

                        I’ve recently moved from Mac OSX Mail to Microsoft’s Entourage because the people I work with have set up MS Exchange.  Mail is a simple, elegant application that does all I need in an email client.  Entourage is filled with features that for me remain unused, it doesn’t integrate well with the OS (I can’t even search through my emails) and is giving me no end of problems.  I’m only using Entourage because my office is on Exchange – not because I want to.

                        In much the same way as people got stuck with Lotus Notes, the typical business these days is stuck with MS Office and MS Word.  Word is one of the most frustrating applications I’ve used (especially when trying to place graphics), but it’s what most of my clients demand.
                      • Jon Kern
                        but just think if everyone built in a feature-usage-monitor that could let your server know about usage every month or so... then you might see that only 20%
                        Message 11 of 21 , Nov 1, 2005
                          but just think if everyone built in a "feature-usage-monitor" that could let your server know about usage every month or so...

                          then you might see that only 20% of an apps features are used by 90% of the people.

                          i am not sure that just because people adapt to a bad design means jack sh!t about the validity of that design.

                          and yes, the load of crap that companies lug around as "legacy" is reality -- albeit is it a necessary one out of design or is it out of ignorance? even here, though, i submit 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.

                          For example, Word could be dramatically simplified by a very small number of features being available by default.

                          just because "you can build it" doesn't mean you should.

                          for a completely menuless application, give this photo organizer a spin (currently requires a unique account so it can create a URI for your photo tags -- uniqueness coming from the account): http://storymill.com/tidepool/
                          -- jon
                          
                          


                          Ash Donaldson said the following on 11/1/2005 6:24 PM:
                          Re: [agile-usability] RE: norman On 2/11/05 2:12 AM, "Jade Ohlhauser" <jade@...> wrote:
                          You have some good points, but I think you're being too harsh on poor Microsoft. Have you used OneNote? It's a great application and finally someone has executed the idea of not having a save dialog at all in a major, useful application.

                          I too am boggled by the inclusion of favorites and history in the Office save dialog, but as is often the case with UI criticism, you seem to be focusing solely on the bad here. There are definite missteps, but saying the UI is horrid? Word is one application that I've found most people seem to do OK with, and in the grand scheme of computer use, that's saying a lot. Despite the confusing flaws so apparent to us, millions of people manage to overcome the obstacles in Word every day. And I have respect and pity for Microsoft UI people not because of that accomplishment, but because of the legacy burden that unprecedented install base presents to making changes and the wide range of tasks it means trying to solve.

                          In much the same way, people overcome the extreme difficulty of learning to become a pilot, play the piano, or setting up their new, unusable stereo system.  This is where the key word of “motivation” comes into play.  Something doesn’t have to be usable, engaging, or even good for millions of people to use it.  

                          I’ve recently moved from Mac OSX Mail to Microsoft’s Entourage because the people I work with have set up MS Exchange.  Mail is a simple, elegant application that does all I need in an email client.  Entourage is filled with features that for me remain unused, it doesn’t integrate well with the OS (I can’t even search through my emails) and is giving me no end of problems.  I’m only using Entourage because my office is on Exchange – not because I want to.

                          In much the same way as people got stuck with Lotus Notes, the typical business these days is stuck with MS Office and MS Word.  Word is one of the most frustrating applications I’ve used (especially when trying to place graphics), but it’s what most of my clients demand.
                        • Desilets, Alain
                          then you might see that only 20% of an apps features are used by 90% of the people. -- Alain: I haven t read that study, but according to Johnson 02, 45% of
                          Message 12 of 21 , Nov 2, 2005
                            Message
                            then you might see that only 20% of an apps features are used by 90% of the people. 
                             
                            -- Alain:
                            I haven't read that study, but according to Johnson'02, 45% of features were never used, and 19% were rarely used (for a total of 64%). This was a study of rather waterfallish projects, as opposed to agile ones. I don't know what those number would look like for an agile project.
                            ---- 

                            and yes, the load of crap that companies lug around as "legacy" is reality -- albeit is it a necessary one out of design or is it out of ignorance? even here, though, i submit 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. 
                             
                            -- Alain:
                            I have heard this idea many times, but I have never seen it implemented. I suspect there might be some pitfalls in terms of the system builder's ability to help and support the user. In other words, it could make it hard to write a good help system when different users employ completely different UIs.
                             
                            I can see this working if you had say, 3 system-wide settings like beginner, intermediate and advanced. You definitely would not want people to be able to use say, beginner UI in one part of the system and expert UI in another part (do the words "feature interaction" raise the hair at the back of your neck?).
                            -----
                             
                             
                            For example, Word could be dramatically simplified by a very small number of features being available by default. 
                             
                            -- Alain:
                            Yes, "less is more" is the one thing where Alan Cooper seems to have gotten it right.
                            ----
                          • Larry Constantine
                            ... 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
                            Message 13 of 21 , Nov 2, 2005
                              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
                            • Jade Ohlhauser
                              Well said Larry. I agree having a single control that changes the UI or other sort of interface expertise modes is not a good idea. You re asking the user to
                              Message 14 of 21 , Nov 2, 2005
                                Well said Larry.
                                 
                                I agree having a single control that changes the UI or other sort of interface "expertise" modes is not a good idea. You're asking the user to make a decision without a lot of information on what the consequences and rewards are and what their own needs are. Also, it's a disruptive jump moving "up to the next level". It's not quite back to square one, but it's a real and/or perceived step backwards in the user's journey to application mastery. Finally, I think if there's something so bad about something that it needs to be removed from the UI for a so called "beginner" user, then it should probably be redesigned.
                                 
                                Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2.
                                 
                                And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I'm talking about underlining misspelled words right away instead of waiting for a spell check. Brilliant. Of course, they ended up taking the superficial element of the concept too far with the Smart Tags. Talk about missing the point.
                                 
                                Jade Ohlhauser
                                Product Manager
                                RPM Software                                 
                                www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                 


                                From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry Constantine
                                Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 8:02 AM
                                To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: [agile-usability] user expertise and progressive usage (was RE: norman)

                                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

                              • Jon Kern
                                if you read carefully, you ll see my idea was always based on a per-feature (or group) concept, so to speak. slider that would allow features to go from
                                Message 15 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                  if you read carefully, you'll see my idea was always based on a per-feature (or group) concept, so to speak.
                                     " slider that would allow features to go from novice to power user"
                                  Not across the board, as I agree it would be bad UI.

                                  The idea is that you can allow the user to peel back the wrapper and access more features at their pace. The system would magically track their level of comfort and expertise and frequency of use. All based on metadata recorded about the UI/features and usages...

                                  One of the features we built for Together to control the UI was a role-based configuration. An analyst will need to have very different parts of the app available than, for example, a developer. An analyst doesn't need the code editor, debugger, and the like. Of course, it was available if it was really needed. It was just a way to control the default features that were visible and front-and-center, so to speak.

                                  Of course, a better goal is to provide better UIs. But, it does become very challenging for big honkin' tools like Together or OptimalJ or even IDEs to accommodate varying levels of expertise as a new user goes from novice to power user.

                                  What sorts of UI design rules of thumb apply for these types of highly complex apps?
                                  -- jon
                                  
                                  


                                  Larry Constantine said the following on 11/2/2005 10:01 AM:
                                  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

                                • Jon Kern
                                  Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It s almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2. btw: yes, it is a bit exploratory
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                    "Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2. "

                                    btw: yes, it is a bit exploratory as far as the UI goes, i think. i bet it is going for a different audience and is purposely trying not to look like every other photo program on the planet (like Picasa). They wanted to make the ability to organize and tag photos through simple "who/what/where" info via drag-n-drop or simple type to get a list of tags or create tags. and to make it so your "Mom" can even share photos with friends.

                                    it's actually easy to use and I don't mind not having a stupid "file" or "edit" or "help" menu. click one button to share one or more photos... click tags to sort: "Jonny" "Mountain" "Nepal" to narrow down to all pics of Jonny, then Jonny with Mountains, then Jonny + Mountains + in Nepal.

                                    And praise for Word? That squiggly is what IDEs have been doing for a while: catching errors as you make them.

                                    -- jon
                                    
                                    


                                    Jade Ohlhauser said the following on 11/2/2005 1:12 PM:
                                    Well said Larry.
                                     
                                    I agree having a single control that changes the UI or other sort of interface "expertise" modes is not a good idea. You're asking the user to make a decision without a lot of information on what the consequences and rewards are and what their own needs are. Also, it's a disruptive jump moving "up to the next level". It's not quite back to square one, but it's a real and/or perceived step backwards in the user's journey to application mastery. Finally, I think if there's something so bad about something that it needs to be removed from the UI for a so called "beginner" user, then it should probably be redesigned.
                                     
                                    Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2.
                                     
                                    And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I'm talking about underlining misspelled words right away instead of waiting for a spell check. Brilliant. Of course, they ended up taking the superficial element of the concept too far with the Smart Tags. Talk about missing the point.
                                     
                                    Jade Ohlhauser
                                    Product Manager
                                    RPM Software                                 
                                    www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                     


                                    <cut>

                                  • Ron Jeffries
                                    Hi Jon, ... Reading incredibly carefully, I see the word slider , not sliders , suggesting strongly that there is just one across the board slider. ... Oh
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                      Hi Jon,

                                      On Thursday, November 3, 2005, at 5:06:30 AM, Jon Kern wrote:

                                      > if you read carefully, you'll see my idea was always based on a per-feature (or group) concept,
                                      > so to speak.
                                      >    " slider that would allow features to go from novice to power user"
                                      > Not across the board, as I agree it would be bad UI.

                                      Reading incredibly carefully, I see the word "slider", not
                                      "sliders", suggesting strongly that there is just one across the
                                      board slider.

                                      > The idea is that you can allow the user to peel back the wrapper
                                      > and access more features at their pace. The system would magically
                                      > track their level of comfort and expertise and frequency of use.
                                      > All based on metadata recorded about the UI/features and usages...

                                      Oh ... and I guess from this that you mean an internal slider, not a
                                      visible one, where some all-knowing being is deciding how I'm doing
                                      and exposing new features for me, not a slider that I the user can
                                      adjust?

                                      > One of the features we built for Together to control the UI was a
                                      > role-based configuration. An analyst will need to have very
                                      > different parts of the app available than, for example, a
                                      > developer. An analyst doesn't need the code editor, debugger, and
                                      > the like. Of course, it was available if it was really needed. It
                                      > was just a way to control the default features that were visible
                                      > and front-and-center, so to speak.

                                      And was that good? Did actual users really like it? A situation
                                      today that is like that is Visual Studio 2005, which holds all kinds
                                      of things back in the Team Version that should in fact be available
                                      to kids on the street in the Pick Up at Circuit City and Learn C# in
                                      Your Free Time version.

                                      VS 2005, to me, is trying to control how I work, based in part on my
                                      pocketbook and in part on some Vision From Redmond about how I
                                      should work, rather than letting me control how I work.

                                      This isn't the same as your example but it's an example of how very
                                      far awry incremental exposure can go.

                                      > Of course, a better goal is to provide better UIs. But, it does
                                      > become very challenging for big honkin' tools like Together or
                                      > OptimalJ or even IDEs to accommodate varying levels of expertise
                                      > as a new user goes from novice to power user.

                                      Yes, it really does. I'm not at all sure that hiding things works
                                      ... when I use another person's version of Office that isn't
                                      configured like mine, I often look for things that I'm being
                                      protected from because the program doesn't realize that a Word God
                                      has just sat down at the keyboard. I suppose it should be reading
                                      the Microsoft Customer RFID chip in my brain. Maybe next version.

                                      > What sorts of UI design rules of thumb apply for these types of
                                      > highly complex apps?

                                      I, too, look forward to hearing this answer!

                                      Ron Jeffries
                                      www.XProgramming.com
                                      Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.
                                      --Albert Einstein
                                    • Desilets, Alain
                                      And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I m talking about underlining misspelled words
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                        Message
                                        And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I'm talking about underlining misspelled words right away instead of waiting for a spell check. Brilliant. Of course, they ended up taking the superficial element of the concept too far with the Smart Tags. Talk about missing the point. 
                                         
                                        -- Alain:
                                        Yeah, I LOVE this kind of unobtrusive decorator. When used properly, they can provide a lot of additional information right away when it becomes relevant, but without interrupting the normal flow of work.
                                         
                                        The Eclipse IDE is great in that way. For example, as soon as I type a syntax mistake, the culprit token is underlined, plus a red stop sign and a light bulb appear in the margin. Clicking on the red stop sign shows the exact error message from the compiler, and clicking on the light bulb brings up a list of automatic fixes for the error (ex: replace "okBitton with okButton").
                                        ---- 
                                         
                                        Jade Ohlhauser
                                        Product Manager
                                        RPM Software                                 
                                        www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                         


                                        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry Constantine
                                        Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 8:02 AM
                                        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: [agile-usability] user expertise and progressive usage (was RE: norman)

                                        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

                                      • Jon Kern
                                        ... Ron Jeffries said the following on 11/3/2005 8:59 AM: Hi Jon, ... per-feature (or group) concept, ... user ... Reading incredibly carefully, I see the
                                        Message 19 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                          :=)

                                          Ron Jeffries said the following on 11/3/2005 8:59 AM:
                                          Hi Jon,

                                          On Thursday, November 3, 2005, at 5:06:30 AM, Jon Kern wrote:

                                          >  if you read carefully, you'll see my idea was always based on a per-feature (or group) concept,
                                          > so to speak.
                                          >     " slider that would allow features to go from novice to power user"
                                          >  Not across the board, as I agree it would be bad UI.

                                          Reading incredibly carefully, I see the word "slider", not
                                          "sliders", suggesting strongly that there is just one across the
                                          board slider.
                                          Yeah, but I knew what I meant :=0
                                          And, there could be the overarching "slider" based on measured brain wave activity with the skull cap hat shipped with the product.

                                          > The idea is that you can allow the user to peel back the wrapper
                                          > and access more features at their pace. The system would magically
                                          > track their level of comfort and expertise and frequency of use.
                                          > All based on metadata recorded about the UI/features and usages...

                                          Oh ... and I guess from this that you mean an internal slider, not a
                                          visible one, where some all-knowing being is deciding how I'm doing
                                          and exposing new features for me, not a slider that I the user can
                                          adjust?
                                          Hey, I never committed to building this, it was just a fleeting idea that has wafted around the rather shallow UI design center in my brain...

                                          I mentioned this idea more as a manifestation of the reality that is presented by a complex (possibly overly so) tool.

                                          > One of the features we built for Together to control the UI was a
                                          > role-based configuration. An analyst will need to have very
                                          > different parts of the app available than, for example, a
                                          > developer. An analyst doesn't need the code editor, debugger, and
                                          > the like. Of course, it was available if it was really needed. It
                                          > was just a way to control the default features that were visible
                                          > and front-and-center, so to speak.

                                          And was that good? Did actual users really like it? A situation
                                          Well, I also did it because a major firm was willing to commit just over $1M in product purchases. So, at least they used it, maybe.

                                          The beauty was, I could configure it externally without hard-coding. Therefore, it wasn't too challenging to roll it out due to our ability to "externally" specify product feature grouping (to sell different product feature mixes).

                                          today that is like that is Visual Studio 2005, which holds all kinds
                                          of things back in the Team Version that should in fact be available
                                          to kids on the street in the Pick Up at Circuit City and Learn C# in
                                          Your Free Time version.

                                          VS 2005, to me, is trying to control how I work, based in part on my
                                          pocketbook and in part on some Vision From Redmond about how I
                                          should work, rather than letting me control how I work.
                                          Sounds like a poor implementation of the idea...

                                          There's the concept of misunderstanding how a user might need to use features.

                                          There's a concept of features per product edition... get more if you pay more.

                                          Then there's the magical "Intelli-Slider-per-Meaningful-Feature-Group" adaptive shelter, that doesn't prevent a user overriding feature availability in an easy manner.

                                          This isn't the same as your example but it's an example of how very
                                          far awry incremental exposure can go.

                                          > Of course, a better goal is to provide better UIs. But, it does
                                          > become very challenging for big honkin' tools like Together or
                                          > OptimalJ or even IDEs to accommodate varying levels of expertise
                                          > as a new user goes from novice to power user.

                                          Yes, it really does. I'm not at all sure that hiding things works
                                          I'm not sure either...
                                          ... when I use another person's version of Office that isn't
                                          configured like mine, I often look for things that I'm being
                                          protected from because the program doesn't realize that a Word God
                                          Yes... I have the same problem when working on a Word doc/desktop by someone who doesn't use styles or even the different "tags" that show tabs, spaces, paragraphs, etc.
                                          has just sat down at the keyboard. I suppose it should be reading
                                          the Microsoft Customer RFID chip in my brain. Maybe next version.
                                          I'd go for that, as long as the chip also helped me go through airports more quickly ;=)

                                          > What sorts of UI design rules of thumb apply for these types of
                                          > highly complex apps?

                                          I, too, look forward to hearing this answer!

                                          Ron Jeffries
                                          www.XProgramming.com
                                          Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.
                                            --Albert Einstein
                                        • Jon Kern
                                          okay... I had something to do with this UI. i went phishing for some initial reactions. we deliberately threw out all manner of UI
                                          Message 20 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                            <disclaimer>
                                            okay... I had something to do with this UI. i went phishing for some initial reactions.
                                            </disclaimer>

                                            we deliberately threw out all manner of UI convention and tried to start from scratch with a "zero mass" design... it was based on seeing our "moms" (really) struggling horribly with all manner of "standard" photo apps.

                                            just like the aeron chair was met with distaste at first, it grew on people after they began to really use it. you can get a feel for the software by looking at the 10-minute "walkabout" viewlet. But even better to try it out.

                                            if you give tidepool a spin, try to organize a few hundred images, create some stories, and share photos with friends, maybe you would have a different opinion from your first gut reaction.
                                            -- jon
                                            
                                            


                                            Jon Kern said the following on 11/3/2005 8:24 AM:
                                            "Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2. "

                                            btw: yes, it is a bit exploratory as far as the UI goes, i think. i bet it is going for a different audience and is purposely trying not to look like every other photo program on the planet (like Picasa). They wanted to make the ability to organize and tag photos through simple "who/what/where" info via drag-n-drop or simple type to get a list of tags or create tags. and to make it so your "Mom" can even share photos with friends.

                                            it's actually easy to use and I don't mind not having a stupid "file" or "edit" or "help" menu. click one button to share one or more photos... click tags to sort: "Jonny" "Mountain" "Nepal" to narrow down to all pics of Jonny, then Jonny with Mountains, then Jonny + Mountains + in Nepal.

                                            And praise for Word? That squiggly is what IDEs have been doing for a while: catching errors as you make them.

                                            -- jon
                                            
                                              


                                            Jade Ohlhauser said the following on 11/2/2005 1:12 PM:
                                            Well said Larry.
                                             
                                            I agree having a single control that changes the UI or other sort of interface "expertise" modes is not a good idea. You're asking the user to make a decision without a lot of information on what the consequences and rewards are and what their own needs are. Also, it's a disruptive jump moving "up to the next level". It's not quite back to square one, but it's a real and/or perceived step backwards in the user's journey to application mastery. Finally, I think if there's something so bad about something that it needs to be removed from the UI for a so called "beginner" user, then it should probably be redesigned.
                                             
                                            Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2.
                                             
                                            And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I'm talking about underlining misspelled words right away instead of waiting for a spell check. Brilliant. Of course, they ended up taking the superficial element of the concept too far with the Smart Tags. Talk about missing the point.
                                             
                                            Jade Ohlhauser
                                            Product Manager
                                            RPM Software                                 
                                            www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                             


                                            <cut>

                                          • Jade Ohlhauser
                                            Well if you re fishing then I guess you caught me :) I can say for first reaction the faux wood backgrounds and gradients around the controls really turned me
                                            Message 21 of 21 , Nov 3, 2005
                                              Well if you're fishing then I guess you caught me :)
                                               
                                              I can say for first reaction the faux wood backgrounds and gradients around the controls really turned me off as did the non-standard widget look and file browse UI in Windows. You would think being a self-proclaimed usability guy I'd try to put my preferences aside and wait for the test data.
                                               
                                              Jade Ohlhauser
                                              Product Manager
                                              RPM Software                                 
                                              www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                               


                                              From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Kern
                                              Sent: Thursday, November 03, 2005 9:13 AM
                                              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                              Subject: Re: [agile-usability] user expertise and progressive usage (was RE: norman)

                                              <disclaimer>
                                              okay... I had something to do with this UI. i went phishing for some initial reactions.
                                              </disclaimer>

                                              we deliberately threw out all manner of UI convention and tried to start from scratch with a "zero mass" design... it was based on seeing our "moms" (really) struggling horribly with all manner of "standard" photo apps.

                                              just like the aeron chair was met with distaste at first, it grew on people after they began to really use it. you can get a feel for the software by looking at the 10-minute "walkabout" viewlet. But even better to try it out.

                                              if you give tidepool a spin, try to organize a few hundred images, create some stories, and share photos with friends, maybe you would have a different opinion from your first gut reaction.
                                              -- jon
                                              
                                              


                                              Jon Kern said the following on 11/3/2005 8:24 AM:
                                              "Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2. "

                                              btw: yes, it is a bit exploratory as far as the UI goes, i think. i bet it is going for a different audience and is purposely trying not to look like every other photo program on the planet (like Picasa). They wanted to make the ability to organize and tag photos through simple "who/what/where" info via drag-n-drop or simple type to get a list of tags or create tags. and to make it so your "Mom" can even share photos with friends.

                                              it's actually easy to use and I don't mind not having a stupid "file" or "edit" or "help" menu. click one button to share one or more photos... click tags to sort: "Jonny" "Mountain" "Nepal" to narrow down to all pics of Jonny, then Jonny with Mountains, then Jonny + Mountains + in Nepal.

                                              And praise for Word? That squiggly is what IDEs have been doing for a while: catching errors as you make them.

                                              -- jon
                                              
                                                


                                              Jade Ohlhauser said the following on 11/2/2005 1:12 PM:
                                              Well said Larry.
                                               
                                              I agree having a single control that changes the UI or other sort of interface "expertise" modes is not a good idea. You're asking the user to make a decision without a lot of information on what the consequences and rewards are and what their own needs are. Also, it's a disruptive jump moving "up to the next level". It's not quite back to square one, but it's a real and/or perceived step backwards in the user's journey to application mastery. Finally, I think if there's something so bad about something that it needs to be removed from the UI for a so called "beginner" user, then it should probably be redesigned.
                                               
                                              Nice find with that photo app Jon, oh man is that bad. It's almost too painful to compare it to something like Picassa 2.
                                               
                                              And if I may slip in one more UI praise for Word that in my opinion makes up for a lot of bad, the red squiggly. I'm talking about underlining misspelled words right away instead of waiting for a spell check. Brilliant. Of course, they ended up taking the superficial element of the concept too far with the Smart Tags. Talk about missing the point.
                                               
                                              Jade Ohlhauser
                                              Product Manager
                                              RPM Software                                 
                                              www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                               


                                              <cut>

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