Friday, March 09, 2007

Feature Explosion!

Feature glut has been evolving for centuries ...

"There is a sea change taking place right now. People are becoming more aware of the poorly made electronic gadgets around them and realizing they can choose something better. This is a great shift in a new direction, making people stop blaming themselves and start rising up against the real problem. However, there is a long road ahead as people shift from the old way of thinking.

A shining example is an article that was recently published in The Guardian titled “My new mobile is lumbered with a bewildering array of unnecessary features aimed at idiots“. The protagonist launches into an array of annoying qualities about his phone that render it nearly unusable. In the event that he does manage to squeeze out a phone call, the process of fighting his way there leaves him flustered and angered. This experience has affected him so much that it has changed the way he looks at phones, and he is spreading the word.

This is a huge step forward from the days where someone would be confused by a horribly designed device and chalk it up to themselves being too stupid to understand it. This particular scenario happens regularly with elders and computers when they hear about all that can be done with a computer. Because they’ve never had a good experience to compare to, the arcane methods used to navigate these little boxes appear overwhelmingly daunting and complex. When it comes down to it, there is a very good reason that elders typically feel this way.

Computers are overwhelmingly daunting and complex.

Not without good reason, mind you. The amount that these little boxes can accomplish is quite impressive, and with a great amount of options comes an equal or greater amount of methods to use those options. These options, in modern day parlance, have come to be known as “features”. It becomes easy to forget that the more features a device has, the more difficult it is to operate. This is why it takes multiple people with years of training to operate the dizzying array of knobs, switches, levers, and dials on a Boeing 747."    (Continued via The Usability of Things)    [Usability Resources]

747 Cockpit - Usability, User Interface Design

747 Cockpit


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