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Usability and application interfaces

It’s about learning and doing and experience. Hans Kwint takes on why Gnome, Ubuntu and the like don’t understand “usability” – rather long but some good stuff to think about.

Lately there has been some uproar about the ‘dumbing down of interfaces’..KDE4 didn’t offer the settings 3 did, Gnome dumbs everything down, and maybe Apple did the same the last decade. I couldn’t tell because I never touch anything Apple, and the only time I did the software crashed and all this dumbing down for the sake of usability! However in my opinion, they are wrong. They confuse ‘usability’ with ‘approachability’. Which leads to software which many times is not user friendly.

What I get out of this is that a system needs some sort of user profile that applications can reference. That profile is something that a system can learn from user behavior as well as user set preferences. It is something that the applications themselves need to feed. The system would learn which applications and utilities you use and how you use them and how familiar you are with them. From that, it could help applications tailor their interface to how you do things and ease the path to a bit broader scope of activity in both function and alternative.

Some of this is happening. It is related to context menus, the resurgence of modal operations, and suggestions – but remember how the Microsoft Office paper clip thingy was ridiculed?

It isn’t a simple problem. Work has been ongoing for decades. It is yet only in the beginning of the beginning.

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