Thursday, November 24, 2011

Comfortably numb

I've been thinking about the user experience lately. And I've come to the conclusion: It's amazing what you can get used to.

Case in point. CET Changed the behavior of the Schemes dialog pop up box. It used to pop up in the upper right hand corner but now it remembers where it was last and pops up there. This is so much nicer. I forgot that it bugged me and I simply got used to it.

This happens to power users all the time. We find work arounds or just get used to it. But the bug is still there.

As a trainer and a power user I’m in a unique position to watch new users get frustrated by bugs that have long since stopped bugging me. This fresh perspective is something most of us gloss over.

A couple weeks ago I was training some designers who are dealing with very badly drawn furniture symbols.  They learned to deal with them by redrawing the symbols correctly. All this extra work because the people who drew the symbols originally haven't responded to their complaints. Like most of us, after a while you stop complaining and just deal with it.

My challenge to you is, UNITE.

You need to make yourself a thorn in the side of the software companies.That's what I do. A lot of times complaining to a huge company like Microsoft or AutoCAD makes you feel like you’re the only one not clapping at the end of a rock concert. Smaller companies are different. They tend to care about complaints. CET, CAP, ProjectMatrix, and others like them fall into this category.  

A lot of my students say they don't have time to report the little things but I say if we all complain a little, maybe they will fix it.

Every thing they fix is one less thing you have to remember when using the software. And that makes your job a tiny bit easier. All these tiny bits add up.

So instead of being numb to the weird idiosyncrasies, tell someone.  

If you don't know who to tell, tell me.

I'll tell them!  

Be thankful!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


1 comment:

Peter-the-QA-guy said...

The little annoying things are quite often easy to fix, but also the hardest to spot for a software company dealing with a complex program.

Cate's example of the Schemes dialog in CET Designer starting to remember its last used position is a good example of this - it may seem a like a small thing but the change saves you time and makes the software more pleasant to work with.

While sending in a bug report may feel like time you can ill afford to spend, informing the software manufacturer of a problem is usually well worth it when you do the math:

In the example of the Scheme dialog that always showed up on the top right corner, we may only be talking about 1-2 seconds to move your eyes and pointer to that location from where you were working. But as soon as you multiply that by the number of times you do this in a single day, multiplied by over 200 work days in a year, it adds up to a lot of time!

Those 5 minutes writing up a bug report or suggestion may end up saving you entire work days in the end!