Making Knowledge Work

November 19, 2011

Interfacing with Idiocy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — virginiahenry @ 3:54 pm

If you’re working to deadlines you didn’t set, there isn’t always time to do your very best.  I’m sure that’s the case.  But I’m not so sure that, given all the time they needed, some interface developers would invest any of it in thinking about the user.

I suspect that some have a very different interpretation of “intuitive” to the dictionary definition –“instinctive: based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning”.  My guess is that they imagine instinctive to be synonymous with “thinking my way”.  So why bother to add clear directions for the completion of form fields, when what they intend us to do is so obvious to them….

My online bank’s been taken over by another – so I needed to register on the new site.  They’d obviously gone to a lot of trouble with the layout and navigation, the content authoring and design: there were even a couple of Flash demos to explain the “easy-to-use” features of the new site.  Pity they hadn’t paid so much attention to making the registration page “easy-to-use”.   

What should have been a straightforward process became a frustrating session of trial and error.  “Oops, you have incorrectly entered your user name”, “oops you have wrongly completed your passcode”, “oops your memorable word is incorrect” were messages that greeted each attempt to save the completed form. 

Only when these accusatory alerts appeared did the developer deign to clarify the particular configuration that would be acceptable!  And at no time was there an opportunity for a user response to the messages – such as “Ooops, you have neglected to do a little coding which would resolve this issue and avoid dumping the problem on your unsuspecting user”. 

Blog at