Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something is rotten in Technoland

Interesting data on frustation and the use of technology. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
  • "Nearly half (48%) of adults who use the internet or have a cell phone say they usually need someone else to set up a new device up for them or show them how to use it."
  • When technology fails 60% of users feel impatient, 48% discouraged and 40% confused.
  • 15% of the users is unable to find a solution. It is shocking that only a meager 2% of those who found a solution found it online.
That is a lot of frustration for an industry aimed at simplifying our lives, isn't it?. These data say a lot about messy interfaces. An interesting question is: does the interface have to be necessarily complicated in the early adoption phase of a product? As an advocate of effective , transparent communication I do not think so. Ask Apple.

The survey findings resonate with me to a great extent. I never understood why setting up an Internet connection almost required computer science expertise or why Windows punished me with having to go through a help file as engaging as the telephone directory. The following is a great example regarding macros (there should be a graduate program on Microsoft macros' error messages)

Click to enlarge. Would you ever read it?
By the way, clicking OK didn't make things better...
it was just an informational error message, not actionable whatsoever

I guess Windows Vista sorted out some of this problems. They lost me as a client way before Vista was launched.

In this post I have just pinpointed the conclusions that strike me the most in the survey. It is worth taking a quick look at the rest of the study.

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