Making technology work for people and not the other way around! (1)

There is a “new” buzzword in IT, Usability. “Hooray!!” I thought, until I started playing with these new “usable” sites. Dumbfounded I realised it means I just have to wade through more stuff I DON’T want.

First example: booking a seat on a flight. I know the specific airline used a company specialising in User Experience (UX for short). One would think that I would have less trouble to get my booking done. Not so! I now need more clicks and scrolling, because: “No I do not want to book accommodation”, “No I do not want to rent a car” and “If I want to donate to charity, I will give money, clothes and dry food to my local soup kitchen”.

Blogging sites are another usability nightmare. Who designs these engines? At least for WordPress I can use Microsoft Word 2010 – a familiar tool – to publish my posts. I have difficulty though in finding comments left on my posts. I know they exist; I even know what they are, but where? A mystery! At least WordPress is considerably friendlier than the previous blog engine I tried to use. For every post I tried to make, I received an ambiguous error message. I didn’t know whether to press Cancel or OK after clicking on Save. One of these choices summarily destroyed my carefully worded blog post, the other would post it. Believe it or not OK is the destruction button! I also couldn’t just post from Word 2010. No, if I used Word 2010, I had to copy and paste by using the right click option menu – not my habitual hot keys: ctrl C and ctrl V – to get my carefully composed gems posted. Any numbered or bulleted lists will lose the first 6 characters of the line. With no way to edit the post!

Facebook – my children sometimes use my laptop to quickly log into their FB profiles. Trusting mother that I am, I do not want to spy on them, so if they forgot to logout, I want to do it for them. Logging out is a bit of a hit and miss effort. Just closing FB does not work if the poor darling marked Keep me logged in. There is no button somewhere at the top of the page that asks: Not Xxxx? Click here to change/log out. The solution is to click on the Account label. A drop down menu appears with Log out as the very last option. By the time I have figured this out, my eyes have inadvertently roamed through my unsuspecting adolescent’s profile and I have learnt some things I would have been better off not knowing.

My plea? Please use REAL people off the street to test your usability scenarios! Do not use potential income from advertising as your guiding principal for what usability entails. Usability should mean Easier to use, not More likely to inadvertently buy something I do not need.

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About cathcor

I am a true geek. I am passionate about the processes and tools involved in software development. I was a code slave for nigh on 16 years and I understand what it is like to be in the trenches. Now I make it my mission to make the processes and tools assist developers to deliver working software in such a way as to grow them personally and professionally. A happy developer delivers better code. My professional motto is: "Make technology work for people!" I recently got married. Between my wonderful God fearing husband and I we have four adult children. I contributed three to the equation (smirk). Life has its challenges, but the rewards make every challenge and sacrifice worth it ten times over. :) View all posts by cathcor

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