Monday, December 03, 2007

Too simple to be usable?

Simplicity is overrated ...

"Simplicity is always associated with Usability, however sometimes we can get so obsessed with simplifying things that, things don’t remain quite usable.. Here are two examples

The apple Mac Book and the Mac Book Pro are amongst the best laptops available as of today. Everything is classy about it, right from that cute camera and mic on the top of the display screen, to the magnetic power connector. The only thing which might probably annoy many new mac book users is that single broad click button on the track pad instead of the regular two buttons. During my early days with my mac book, I was really annoyed not being able to do a right click with the track pad. I don’t remember how many months I spent cursing the Apple guys and being 100 % dependent on an external mouse. A discussion with a fellow mac user over a cup of coffee, led to the revelation that the right click was possible with the mac track pad. It was as simple as using two fingers on the track pad and hitting that same big broad button.. Now how on earth would a simpleton like me ever think of that. Using two fingers instead of one for a right click was just too simple for me to ever think of.

Another example which struck me was during one of my conversations with Blaize (a.k.a. Zi). It seems during the very early days of Google, while it was still being run from one of the Standford University labs, The Google guys wanted to do a usability test on group of users before their launch. If you remember during the 1990s, website homepages were full of content, and the more crowded the homepage, the bigger and popular the site.. During those days, a website whose homepage had one image, one large input box and two buttons under it, was of kind of unheard of…

Anyways getting back to my point. So the Google guys had a couple of university friends test out their new website. While they were observing the people go about using the software, they noticed one person, sitting in front of the computer staring at the screen not doing anything.. While he continued to stare for some more time, the Google guys decided to ask him if something was wrong.. The guy looked up and said, “I’m waiting for the page to Load”."    (Continued via Vinci Rufus)    [Usability Resources]

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