Custom Application Development

May 3 2008   12:25AM GMT

Desktops – User Interface – Simplicity of Design

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

I just saw a recent post that I just can’t let pass by – “Overheard: Hardy Heron flunks the girlfriend test“.  The cute title of course caught my eye right away — my love of the Heron and spotting the cute little graphic in the post also caught my attention — but then to read the post and realize that it related to my recent post about Microsoft being vulnerable on the desktop with its poorly received Vista was just too much to handle. 

The reference to the “Hardy Heron” comes from a posting titled “The Great Ubuntu-Girlfriend Experiment“.  I encourage reading the post, but in particular pay attention to the conclusion.  I do believe that those of us who are developing programs for “real users” to “useMUST avoid making assumptions regarding just what the user will know, and not – but it IS VERY DIFFICULT to do!  Only the hardy need apply.

I found myself somewhat disappointed to hear that the girlfriend had trouble with the Ubuntu, but I also know that when I kept hearing from associates about how the Mac interface was so great — I remember myself sitting down at said Mac and being clueless as to where to begin.  I’m not sure however that there won’t always be difficulties when one sits in front of a new application interface.  I’ve posted before about my thoughts on “…Busy or Sparse?”  user interfaces.  Help is nice to provide, but it almost needs to be “in the face” before it will get used.  (Something like having the last place you look to solve an issue is in the instruction manual?)

Anyway, based upon the “Hardy Heron” test maybe MS Windows and Vista isn’t in trouble — yet!

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  • Margaret Rouse
    Thanks for the shout out -- I was a trainer for many years and dealt with a lot of people who understood the logic of the file structure in Windows 95 right away and felt comfortable about poking around -- but there were always those to whom the computer would always be voodoo magic and their fear of "breaking something" paralized them. I don't think it'll be too long before Linux developers figure out a way to reach the second type of user and Linux on the desktop will even pass [A href=""]The Parent Test.[/A] As for Vista -- I hadn't even considered it was the GUI that turned people off. I just asked my son (college-age) what he thought. He grew up on Windows 95/98...moved to a Mac two years ago, goes to a school where the computers run Vista and has friends that use Linux. His answer kind of suprised me. He said something like "I used to feel as if I could pretty much do anything and everything on our old WIndows computer and I really understood how everything worked. Now I'm moving around different operating systems and GUIs and it's like I'm barely literate in six different languages. I can do the basics, but I feel like I don't speak any of the languages fluently anymore."
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