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RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

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  • Jon Meads
    A good quote I once heard was that The only thing that is intuitive is a mother s nipple, everything else is learned. When someone talks about an intuitive
    Message 1 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
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      A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is intuitive is a mother's nipple, everything else is learned."  When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are talking about a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it is easily and quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and navigation. And, understanding what they would be means understanding the users very well -- which means taking the time to identify who the users are and study them.
       
      Cheers,
      jon


      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
      Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 7:36 AM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

      A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference):  good UI design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new UI; the trick is to teach them only once.  On second and subsequent uses the UI should be intuitive.
       
      Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on that concept now?  Much obliged.
       
      Tobias
       
    • Tobias Mayer
      ... But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all know
      Message 2 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
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        > a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it is easily and quickly recognizable...
         
        But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design?  Just because we all know something, and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't you agree?
         
        Perhaps I can rephrase my question as:
        To what extent should we "educate" users in terms of new UI design, and to what extent should we resort to common practice (regardless of its effectiveness)?
         
        And then, if we need to educate, should that be via a user manual (who reads them?) built-in, context-sensitive (e.g. popup) help, or some other method?
         
        Tobias


        Jon Meads <jon.meads@...> wrote:
        A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is intuitive is a mother's nipple, everything else is learned."  When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are talking about a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it is easily and quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and navigation. And, understanding what they would be means understanding the users very well -- which means taking the time to identify who the users are and study them.
         
        Cheers,
        jon


        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
        Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 7:36 AM
        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

        A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference):  good UI design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new UI; the trick is to teach them only once.  On second and subsequent uses the UI should be intuitive.
         
        Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on that concept now?  Much obliged.
         
        Tobias
         

      • Dave Churchville
        Comments inline... ... is easily and quickly recognizable... ... that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all know
        Message 3 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
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          Comments inline...

          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Tobias Mayer <tobyanon@y...>
          wrote:
          >
          > > a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it
          is easily and quickly recognizable...
          >
          > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
          that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just
          because we all know something, and do it, doesn't mean there may not
          be a better way, wouldn't you agree?


          Yes, this is true, of course, but it's really of question of what
          problem you're trying to solve. Do you want your users to be able to
          *learn* the software quickly, or just to be able to use the software
          after a sufficient period?

          For example, it might be great to have a UI that when you drag an item
          into a folder, it creates a copy of that item. But Windows
          conventions have taught most users that dragging to a folder is a
          "Move" command. It doesn't make you wrong, and it might actually be
          the best approach, but you still shouldn't do it if you're concerned
          about learnability.

          Even worse, you have an uphill battle convincing anyone that your
          approach is "better", because people need to use multiple pieces of
          software, and so would prefer them to all work as similarly as
          possible, right or wrong. That's what makes them happy, not each
          product doing it in a "better" way.

          > Perhaps I can rephrase my question as:
          > To what extent should we "educate" users in terms of new UI
          design, and to what extent should we resort to common practice
          (regardless of its effectiveness)?
          >
          > And then, if we need to educate, should that be via a user manual
          (who reads them?) built-in, context-sensitive (e.g. popup) help, or
          some other method?

          Just make it work like they expect, no amount of help can compensate
          for violating that principle. Of course, that's easier said than done ;)

          As with all things, your mileage may vary.

          --Dave

          -----------------------------------
          Dave Churchville
          http://www.extremeplanner.com
          Agile Project Management Made Easy
        • Jon Meads
          There are a number of issues in deciding how to design a UI. Dave is correct -- sometimes it makes sense to try and stick with current user knowledge/behavior
          Message 4 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
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            There are a number of issues in deciding how to design a UI. Dave is correct
            -- sometimes it makes sense to try and stick with current user
            knowledge/behavior and sometimes it makes sense to require a change. Usually
            it comes down to a cost/benefit ratio. There are costs in making changes and
            costs in staying as is. This is one reason why usability engineers often
            look towards having usability objectives and goals specified as part of the
            project charter.

            Cheers,
            jon

            -----Original Message-----
            From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Dave Churchville
            Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 10:42 AM
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Learning a new UI

            Comments inline...

            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Tobias Mayer <tobyanon@y...>
            wrote:
            >
            > > a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it
            is easily and quickly recognizable...
            >
            > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
            that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we
            all know something, and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way,
            wouldn't you agree?


            Yes, this is true, of course, but it's really of question of what problem
            you're trying to solve. Do you want your users to be able to
            *learn* the software quickly, or just to be able to use the software after a
            sufficient period?

            For example, it might be great to have a UI that when you drag an item into
            a folder, it creates a copy of that item. But Windows conventions have
            taught most users that dragging to a folder is a "Move" command. It doesn't
            make you wrong, and it might actually be the best approach, but you still
            shouldn't do it if you're concerned about learnability.

            Even worse, you have an uphill battle convincing anyone that your approach
            is "better", because people need to use multiple pieces of software, and so
            would prefer them to all work as similarly as possible, right or wrong.
            That's what makes them happy, not each product doing it in a "better" way.

            > Perhaps I can rephrase my question as:
            > To what extent should we "educate" users in terms of new UI
            design, and to what extent should we resort to common practice (regardless
            of its effectiveness)?
            >
            > And then, if we need to educate, should that be via a user manual
            (who reads them?) built-in, context-sensitive (e.g. popup) help, or some
            other method?

            Just make it work like they expect, no amount of help can compensate for
            violating that principle. Of course, that's easier said than done ;)

            As with all things, your mileage may vary.

            --Dave

            -----------------------------------
            Dave Churchville
            http://www.extremeplanner.com
            Agile Project Management Made Easy







            Yahoo! Groups Links
          • Larry Constantine
            ... A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference): good UI
            Message 5 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
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              Tobias wrote:

              -----
              A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to
              the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference): good UI
              design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new
              UI; the trick is to teach them only once. On second and subsequent uses the
              UI should be intuitive.

              Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on
              that concept now? Much obliged.
              -----

              Don't know the thread but what it is referring to is known as instructive
              interaction. So-called single-trial learning can be exploited to make novel
              UI designs self-teaching so user mastery is effectively immediate. The
              details of the anticipatory-learning model and the techniques of instructive
              interaction were explained in a 2002 paper in User Experience, 1(3). Send me
              an email off-list and I’ll forward a .PDF copy.

              The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must recognize novel
              elements as such, actively engage in anticipating (guessing) behavior, and
              immediately try out and confirm the anticipation. The result is stable
              persistent learning without further practice.

              --Larry Constantine, IDSA

              ________________________________________
              From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
              Sent: Saturday, 03 December 2005 10:36 AM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

              A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to
              the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference):  good UI
              design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new
              UI; the trick is to teach them only once.  On second and subsequent uses the
              UI should be intuitive.
               
              Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on
              that concept now?  Much obliged.
               
              Tobias
               

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            • Randy MacDonald
              ... This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren t that simple. ... BSc(Math) UNBF 83 Sapere Aude |
              Message 6 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that
                you may just
                > perpetuating existing second-rate design?  Just because
                we all know something,
                > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't
                you agree?
                 
                This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren't that simple.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                |\/| Randy A MacDonald             | you can't pay for it,
                |/\| ramacd@...            |       even if you want to.
                BSc(Math) UNBF'83 Sapere Aude      | APL: If you can say it, it's done..
                Natural Born APL'er                | Demo website: http://142.166.105.166/
                ----------------------------------------------------(INTP)----{ gnat }--
              • Jim Kauffman
                ... Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows
                Message 7 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry
                  > Constantine
                  > Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 4:00 PM
                  > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
                  >
                  > The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must
                  > recognize novel elements as such, actively engage in
                  > anticipating (guessing) behavior, and immediately try out and
                  > confirm the anticipation. The result is stable persistent
                  > learning without further practice.

                  Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide
                  academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike
                  Windows or the Mac UI, to avoid giving an advantage to participants who were
                  computer-proficient. The test began with a sample session with an integrated
                  tutorial, which gave extra assistance to users who were struggling to complete
                  the sample tasks. The tutorial was mastery-based, so users could not go on to
                  the test itself until they had demonstrated an acceptable mastery of the UI.


                  Jim K.
                • shel kimen
                  ... Mac UI That s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback? ./s
                  Message 8 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                    >>We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows or the Mac UI

                     

                    That’s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback?

                     

                    ./s

                  • Larry Constantine
                    ... were ... integrated ... complete ... to ... UI. Intriguing technique. It reminds me of an issue in testing novel designs. A team I have been working with
                    Message 9 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                      Jim wrote:

                      > Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide
                      > academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike
                      > Windows or the Mac UI, to avoid giving an advantage to participants who
                      were
                      > computer-proficient. The test began with a sample session with an
                      integrated
                      > tutorial, which gave extra assistance to users who were struggling to
                      complete
                      > the sample tasks. The tutorial was mastery-based, so users could not go on
                      to
                      > the test itself until they had demonstrated an acceptable mastery of the
                      UI.

                      Intriguing technique. It reminds me of an issue in testing novel designs. A
                      team I have been working with devised some very novel and potentially highly
                      efficient new interaction techniques for a production environment. No claim
                      to intuitability is being made; the primary design driver is user efficiency
                      and reliable interaction. The only way to reasonably test such features for
                      usability is to pre-train users with the basic technique (keeping track of
                      how much it takes to gain a certain proficiency) before testing in context.

                      --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                      > -----Original Message-----
                      > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                      > Of Jim Kauffman
                      > Sent: Sunday, 04 December 2005 9:11 AM
                      > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
                      >
                      > > -----Original Message-----
                      > > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      > > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry
                      > > Constantine
                      > > Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 4:00 PM
                      > > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      > > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
                      > >
                      > > The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must
                      > > recognize novel elements as such, actively engage in
                      > > anticipating (guessing) behavior, and immediately try out and
                      > > confirm the anticipation. The result is stable persistent
                      > > learning without further practice.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Jim K.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • Larry Constantine
                      Randy wrote: ... may just ... something, ... This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren t that simple.
                      Message 10 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                        Randy wrote:
                        =====
                        > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that you
                        may just
                        > perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all know
                        something,
                        > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't you agree?

                        This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably
                        means the issues aren't that simple.
                        =====

                        Yes, well the Dvorak keyboard story so often cited is instructive in this
                        regard. The Dvorak keyboard layout is indeed more efficient in the hands of
                        a fully-trained user, but for most accomplished QWERTY typists, the very
                        modest gain is not worth the massive hours of retraining to get back up to
                        where they were. (As a 35 wpm hunt-and-peck typist in my 30s, I decided to
                        learn touch typing. It took nearly 6 months for me to get up to the same
                        speed without peeking.) Dvorak users also report difficulty when confronted
                        with a QWERTY layout, which is far more common.

                        The lesson is that we must always look at the big-picture systems
                        implications, not just raw efficiency or instantaneous intuitability. My
                        view as a designer is that non-standard designs need to be a LOT better AND
                        easily learned to justify departing from well established convention,
                        particularly where users have invested heavily in learning the old way.

                        --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                      • Jim Kauffman
                        No, we weren t given any feedback, but the high school students who tried the UI rated it easy to learn and use . One out of ten participants had some trouble
                        Message 11 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                          No, we weren't given any feedback, but the high school students who tried the UI rated it "easy to learn and use". One out of ten participants had some trouble with it, but she had never used a computer or played a video game. Unfortunately, her verdict was "it's easy to use--I'm just stupid."
                           
                          Jim K.


                          From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of shel kimen
                          Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2005 9:34 AM
                          To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

                          >>We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows or the Mac UI

                           

                          That’s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback?

                           

                        • shel kimen
                          ... Ouch. I mean, really. Makes me so sad. Anyway, thanks for the story. ./s
                          Message 12 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                            >>Unfortunately, her verdict was "it's easy to use--I'm just stupid."

                             

                            Ouch. I mean, really. Makes me so sad. Anyway, thanks for the story. ./s

                             

                             

                          • Jeff Patton
                            ... that you ... know ... you agree? ... probably ... in this ... hands of ... very ... back up to ... This seems similar in direction to an article in UX
                            Message 13 of 17 , Dec 7, 2005
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                              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine"
                              <lconstantine@f...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Randy wrote:
                              > =====
                              > > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
                              that you
                              > may just
                              > > perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all
                              know
                              > something,
                              > > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't
                              you agree?
                              >
                              > This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which
                              probably
                              > means the issues aren't that simple.
                              > =====
                              >
                              > Yes, well the Dvorak keyboard story so often cited is instructive
                              in this
                              > regard. The Dvorak keyboard layout is indeed more efficient in the
                              hands of
                              > a fully-trained user, but for most accomplished QWERTY typists, the
                              very
                              > modest gain is not worth the massive hours of retraining to get
                              back up to
                              > where they were.....

                              This seems similar in direction to an article in UX magazine [volume
                              4, issue 4] I just received. The article was on "how financial
                              markets value user experience" and explained a simple model for
                              change adoption. Change liklihood = f(crisis vs. perceived pain of
                              adoption).

                              It's not /exactly/ the same thing - but it seems a simple idea to
                              keep in mind when proposing any new and better way of doing anything:
                              The person using the new thing will likely evaluate the
                              cost/annoyance of learning a new thing [pain of adoption] against the
                              cost/annoyance of using something familiar [crisis]. If the current
                              crisis is high, you can expect users will be more willing to learn.
                              With the QUERTY vs. DVORAK thing, the current "crisis" just isn't
                              compelling enough to justify change.

                              Back to Tobias' original question/comment: "good UI design is not
                              necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new UI;
                              the trick is to teach them only once. On second and subsequent uses
                              the UI should be intuitive."

                              The one absolute truth about good UI is that there are no absolute
                              truths aboug good UI.

                              We all know that it always depends. Is the user in a position
                              they /can/ get taught/be trained? Will there /be/ a second use?
                              [especially if they're frustrated with the first] How long between
                              the first use and the second use? What's the expected frequency of
                              use?

                              I think it's true to say that good UI design does not need to be
                              inuitive - rather it needs to fit its context of use. Software used
                              frequently by users in a context where effeciency matters may not
                              need to be intuitive - at least that isn't the most important
                              factor.

                              The second part of the comment went towards memorability - how easy
                              is it to remember how to use the system after using it once or
                              twice. Again - depends on context of use. We'd hope the software
                              would support the task well enough that even if the UI wasn't
                              intutive that the effectiveness of support for the task made it
                              memorable. But, suppose it wasn't. Suppose it took lots of practice
                              and instruction to use well, to remember how to use. Say as much
                              practice as a musical instrument or 3D modeling software... that
                              wouldn't be so bad.

                              Coming full circle, it's a function of the pain the user is in
                              without the software and the pain of learning the new stuff. Any
                              statements about intuitability, learnability, or memorability need to
                              be considered in that context. Dogmatically saying all software
                              needs to be intuitable isn't necessarily user-centric.

                              Thanks,

                              -Jeff
                            • Jared M. Spool
                              Sorry I m chiming in late on this. It s been a long week and I m just catching up on messages now. ... Actually, a sucking on mother s nipple is innate , not
                              Message 14 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
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                                Sorry I'm chiming in late on this. It's been a long week and I'm just
                                catching up on messages now.

                                At 11:43 AM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                                >A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is intuitive is a
                                >mother's nipple, everything else is learned."

                                Actually, a sucking on mother's nipple is "innate", not "intuitive."

                                >When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are talking about a UI that
                                >matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it is easily and
                                >quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and navigation. And,
                                >understanding what they would be means understanding the users very well
                                >-- which means taking the time to identify who the users are and study them.

                                I wrote an article about this. You can find it here:
                                http://www.uie.com/articles/design_intuitive/

                                Hope this helps,

                                Jared


                                Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                                978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                                Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                              • Jared M. Spool
                                ... Hee. Wrote about this too: http://www.uie.com/articles/embraceable_change/ Jared Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering 4 Lookout
                                Message 15 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
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                                  At 02:41 PM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                                  >There are costs in making changes and
                                  >costs in staying as is. This is one reason why usability engineers often
                                  >look towards having usability objectives and goals specified as part of the
                                  >project charter.

                                  Hee. Wrote about this too: http://www.uie.com/articles/embraceable_change/

                                  Jared


                                  Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                  4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                                  978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                                  Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                                • Jade Ohlhauser
                                  I enjoyed that one, thanks Jared Jade Ohlhauser Product Manager RPM Software www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Dec 12, 2005
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                                    I enjoyed that one, thanks Jared
                                     
                                    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 Jared M. Spool
                                    Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 10:21 PM
                                    To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                    Cc: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                    Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

                                    Sorry I'm chiming in late on this. It's been a long week and I'm just
                                    catching up on messages now.

                                    At 11:43 AM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                                    >A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is
                                    intuitive is a
                                    >mother's nipple, everything else is
                                    learned."

                                    Actually, a sucking on mother's nipple is "innate", not "intuitive."

                                    >When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are
                                    talking about a UI that
                                    >matches the user's previous expereinces so well
                                    that it is easily and
                                    >quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and
                                    navigation. And,
                                    >understanding what they would be means understanding
                                    the users very well
                                    >-- which means taking the time to identify who the
                                    users are and study them.

                                    I wrote an article about this. You can find it here:
                                    http://www.uie.com/articles/design_intuitive/

                                    Hope this helps,

                                    Jared


                                    Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                    4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                                    978 777-9123   jspool@...  http://www.uie.com
                                    Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks


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