How do you not notice that?



  • Hey,

    I don't want this to be a rant but i have a few issues with some clients of ours and thought some of you out there may have had similar experiences.  The particular subject of this post are users who do not notice things on their computer even though they use it every day.  I mean the office people that sit in front of their computers all day(not IT professionals) working away but failing to notice things about how their computer behaves, here is a case in point,

    We had one of the end users of the system in to test a prototype of the system we were building(a windows application) about twenty minutes into the testing she came over with a rather worried look, I need to send an email but the program is taking up the whole screen, it's really important that i can always check my email even during an assessment".  Well i thought to myself she must have hit Alt+Enter or fullscreen or something, so i go over and nope, just sitting there like a normal window.  I show her the minimize box and she exclaims "oh i see like you can do with word"

    Now i know she's not an it professional but she does sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day the same as i do, i can't imagine how you could fail to notice basically all programs have this feature, and i certainly don't recall any lectures at university about how to minimise programs.  Another thing that mystifies me with these users is that things that they encounter in one area thay don't seem to realise could be applied to another area, ie, when we had to deploy a patch, a small exe written with innoSetup.  If you tell them to go to http://some-address/somedoc.doc for our training manuals that will be fine but ask them to download an exe file and all of a sudden it becomes a huge issue and we spend the whole day fielding calls about how to get the file and then double click it.  Despite the fact there are completely clear instructions which you must read and click a "i have read and understand these instructions" button before you can download the file(yes i know it seems a bit over the top but we get sick of phone calls).  Or the number of times i have had to explain to the same people the difference between their login to the administration side of the web site and their login to the client part of the website.

     Also office level data entry types who have no idea of what the tab key does, they spend all day entering data into fields and use their mouse to move from each one to the next one.

    I know everyone is thinking "but these guys aren't it professionals" and that's true but these are people that use a computer all day at work, they should at least have a minimum level of computer literacy, these are really, really basic concepts regardless of your education level.  I guess the organisation should ensure all staff have some computer training but i know in the real world this rarely happens.  they don't have to be experts but if i say "Open your browser " or
    "download xyz" i don't want to be met with baffled silence and confused
    looks, not what i had in mind when i became a programmer.

     I don't want this to be a rant and be "that guy" i'm genuinely interested in whether this is a common experience and what people's thoughts are on how these sorts of issues can be tackled.  I believe the companies and organisations need to spend on basic it training for their employees, and not that sort of learn by wrote "click here, then here, then type..." but actually teach them what a file is, what a program is, the basics of their file system that sort of useful generic knowledge you can apply in many situations.

     



  • Er... welcome to planet earth. On this planet we have millions of humanoid lifeforms who go thru their entire lives not noticing things. It's a basic principle of the way the brain works. I remember way back when I was studying one of my profs was very fond of remarking that everybody has a blind spot in their field of vision. Visually, it's about the size of an apple held at arms length. Everybody has it and everbody is blissfully unaware of it. The human brain is a remarkable machine and one of its core functions is disregarding unimportant things (although how its quantifies 'unimportant' is a very interesting question). So don't be surprised when a user just ignores almost anything put in front of them.

    This manifests itself in such marvels as a customer I once had berating me because one of her users had managed to overwrite a number of customer records in a program I had developed. Even when I explained to her that the user had confirmed her choices thru two seperate dialog boxes, she still contended that this was all my fault, as all the users just clicked "OK" on everything they were presented with. In true human style she was ignoring the fact that the actual click series in the dialogs was "No" followed by "OK".

    So it goes on....  

     



  • 1. TV ad here (I forget what it was for):

    man and woman in front of personal computer
    A voice-over, presumably from some video tutorial, says:

    -- Put the mouse in the top right corner

    man proceeds to pick up mouse and places it on the monitor surface in the top right corner.

    2. (...) 

    3. Hilarity

    4. Profit! 



  • People are stupid. QED.



  • People are NOT stupid. They are just acting out the old evolutionary classic "Fight or Flight".
    Even today, many people see the computer as something scary, almost magical and generally far too advanced than that their humble minds could ever hope to control it.
    If those people are forcibly confronted with a computer, because they have to get their job done for example, they behave much like a rabbit that is dropped outside its territory. They are so full of fear they they could break something/get hurt that they will only follow the exact path they know without looking an inch right or left. And as always when the Fight or Flight program is activated, rational thinking as well as learning processes are  suppressed in favor of reflex actions. One of the most spectacular examples of those reflex actions is IMO the famous "OK reflex": When a program pops up an error message, or even just a dialog, those people immediately start to panic. "Oh god what does it do now? What should I do?? No time to think! Quick, or the wolf gets me!". In that reflex they do what seems as the quickest way to make the evil box go away: Hit OK. They never realized that, maybe, you could actually read a dialog because they didn't think at all during the process.
    I think we all have areas in our life where we're so unskilled that we occasionally fall back to "Fight or Flight" behavior. The only fault of those people is that they didn't do something against it.

    As for the brain ignoring things, even "professionals" aren't prone to this, as the phenomena of "Banner blindness" shows.
     

     



  • @PSWorx said:

    People are NOT stupid.

    You need to do some tech support, you're starting to lose it. 



  • @PSWorx said:

    People are NOT stupid. They are just acting out the old evolutionary classic "Fight or Flight".
    Even today, many people see the computer as something scary, almost magical and generally far too advanced than that their humble minds could ever hope to control it.
    If those people are forcibly confronted with a computer, because they have to get their job done for example, they behave much like a rabbit that is dropped outside its territory. They are so full of fear they they could break something/get hurt that they will only follow the exact path they know without looking an inch right or left. And as always when the Fight or Flight program is activated, rational thinking as well as learning processes are  suppressed in favor of reflex actions. One of the most spectacular examples of those reflex actions is IMO the famous "OK reflex": When a program pops up an error message, or even just a dialog, those people immediately start to panic. "Oh god what does it do now? What should I do?? No time to think! Quick, or the wolf gets me!". In that reflex they do what seems as the quickest way to make the evil box go away: Hit OK. They never realized that, maybe, you could actually read a dialog because they didn't think at all during the process.
     

     Yep, there are times when this is true and times when people are just stupid.  As an IT customer support engineer for many years, on the occasions when I  witness this behavior, I'm always puzzled by it.  When you see it and then ask them to do it again so that you can actually take a moment to read the error message (in order to help them solve the problem), they always hesitate fearfully before triggering the error again.

    Another case I've witnessed, and this much more frequently is that they just need to get their work done ASAP because the boss is breathing down their neck or whatever.  So they click OK just to get the problem out of their face and want to get their job done.  Of course if it was a fatal error, it doesn't work and they freak out...

    Just this morning, I replied to a customer's email saying that yes, we needed the 3rd party software vendor to tell us what IP address to connect to in a new interface we're coding for him.  He *immediately* calls me to ask if the interface uses TCPIP.

    I tend to lurk on a forum for waiters also, mostly out of curiousity about other people's jobs.  They deal with this alot also.  Prominent signs showing the specials of the day are frequently ignored.  Signs saying to seat yourself or wait to be seated are ignored.  Customers will peruse the menu for minutes, somehow not see 5 different types of salmon offerings for example, and ask the waiter if they serve salmon.

    People are stupid.



  • @asuffield said:

    @PSWorx said:

    People are NOT stupid.

    You need to do some tech support, you're starting to lose it. 

    Users are not stupid. Stupidity is the exclusive domain of IT professionals and in particular, tech support. Proof of this is the OP who, out of the the myriad of ways to get from one window to another, suggests the ergonomically least efficient one. (On windows: Alt-tab or start bar, on Mac: Cmd-Tab, Cmd-H or expose; on X: mouse move etc; are much faster)



  • @PSWorx said:

    (...)They are just acting out the old evolutionary classic "Fight or Flight".
    Even today, many people see the computer as something scary(...)

    Actually, I know many lammers/noobs who worship their computers but don't even know how to see if they have enough space for more MP3's in their HD's.

    Dude, if you think you got it tough, you should see some people I know. We have some really scary tech support stories here.



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    I tend to lurk on a forum for waiters also, mostly out of curiousity about other people's jobs.  They deal with this alot also.  Prominent signs showing the specials of the day are frequently ignored.  Signs saying to seat yourself or wait to be seated are ignored.  Customers will peruse the menu for minutes, somehow not see 5 different types of salmon offerings for example, and ask the waiter if they serve salmon.

    Waiters are used to those menus. Other people are not. I've seen it too many times, *exactly because* I don't go to restaurants often - once a couple of months is maximum. I go there to eat and I get ~10 pages to look through. Only things I don't really care about are written with big font - like names of food, but not the main ingredients, whether it's full set, etc.

    Additionally there's no much help about how to order - some menus are better than others and you see instantly what sides you can choose with what. But others are not that good and next to me stands a guy that knows this menu by heart and asks me what I'd like... So I don't spend time reading each page, but tell him what I'd like - simple as that :)

    Signs? There's a cafe in town I like to go to. When you're inside, you can go down through the door with a sign saying something like "toilets and more tables downstairs"... Usually only staff goes there. I've noticed it after 5'th visit probably. You go down to a very nice room, twice the size of main one - and it's usually empty. Noone sees / cares about the sign.

    Ok - but getting back to topic - you spend max 30 min. in cafe, max 2 hours in restaurant, max 1 minute staring at error message - if you don't expect to go back there any time soon, are you really willing to explore, look around, think of not typical actions? Just drink / eat / click ok and get back to life. It applies everywhere - right?



  • @JvdL said:

    Proof of this is the OP who, out of the the myriad of ways to get from one window to another, suggests the ergonomically least efficient one. (On windows: Alt-tab or start bar, on Mac: Cmd-Tab, Cmd-H or expose; on X: mouse move etc; are much faster)

    Heh. Good point.

     

    If the brain's information filtering is at once a genius and an utterly stupid system, can you call people stupid?



  • @JvdL said:

    @asuffield said:
    @PSWorx said:

    People are NOT stupid.

    You need to do some tech support, you're starting to lose it. 

    Users are not stupid. Stupidity is the exclusive domain of IT professionals and in particular, tech support. Proof of this is the OP who, out of the the myriad of ways to get from one window to another, suggests the ergonomically least efficient one. (On windows: Alt-tab or start bar, on Mac: Cmd-Tab, Cmd-H or expose; on X: mouse move etc; are much faster)

    If you are an IT professional, then you are partly right, IT professionals CAN be stupid.  

    1.   If I was showing someone how to get to their email in a different window I would use the mouse too.  It's easier to remember to click on the little "_" button than to remember to hold down alt and hit tab until the little thing in the screen shows the right thumbnail icon.
    2.  In X, Windows, and Mac, the minimize button for the mouse is the same, but the keyboard commands vary (although alt+tab is pretty universal I think).  Why not show the one that is almost always the same?
    3.  His job wasn't to teach the person the most efficient way to use a computer.  He was confused by the question and probably just grabbed the mouse and clicked the button.  After that he realized that the user didn't know how to switch windows.
    4.  Alt+Tab does not bring up the desktop, which is a common destination.
     



  • @tster said:


    2.  In X, Windows, and Mac, the minimize button for the mouse is the same, but the keyboard commands vary (although alt+tab is pretty universal I think).  Why not show the one that is almost always the same? 

    In X, it depends on the window manager if how the windows are decorated (decorations=borders, title, buttons etc.). In most default configurations, it looks and feels (keyboard shortcut) relatively similar to Windows, though.



  • @tster said:

    @JvdL said:
    The minimize button is inefficient.

    Unsubstantiated counter arguments.

    The inefficiency of the minimize button is not an opinion, but a fact known as Fitt's Law that has been exhaustively tested and verified in UI labs by Xerox and Apple in the early eighties.

    To wrap it up for you, let's use Windows as a reference because that's probably where the OP was - you can apply similar arguments to other OS.

    To get to window X, minimizing window Y only gets you part of the way. If you're out of luck, you'll get to window X at the bottom of the stack after minimizing 20 windows. Instead, simply hitting window Y's icon on the start bar will get you there directly. That's the fastest when you're holding the mouse in one hand and a coffee mug in the other. With one hands on the keyboard, Alt-Tab will be faster. If you have the other hand on the mouse, you have a double advantage: Alt-Tab to window X with one hand while at the same time moving the mouse pointer to the desired location within that window with your other hand.

    If you really only want to minimize the active window, clicking on it's start bar icon is faster, because it has what is known as "infinite height" and also considerable more width. Not only is the minimize button small, it also on the wrong side (in Windows). Mouses tend to drift towards the left side, because that's where you find most clickable controls. (I long for the days of  my NeXT box with its vertical scroll bars on the left side, which is actually the right side for them.)

     



     



  • @tster said:

    In X, Windows, and Mac, the minimize button for the mouse is the same

    On the Mac, the minimize button is unrecognizable as such (was it the red, the yellow or the green led?), it comes with the obnoxious genie effect that is even more irritating than Microsoft's search dog, and clutters the dock with an ridiculous indistinguishable mini rendering of the window. The typical Mac user clicks the minimize button once, laughs, and never uses it again.



  • @JvdL said:

    @tster said:

    In X, Windows, and Mac, the minimize button for the mouse is the same

    On the Mac, the minimize button is unrecognizable as such (was it the red, the yellow or the green led?), it comes with the obnoxious genie effect that is even more irritating than Microsoft's search dog, and clutters the dock with an ridiculous indistinguishable mini rendering of the window. The typical Mac user clicks the minimize button once, laughs, and never uses it again.

    It's the yellow pill (and you can turn off that genie thing.)

    Don't get me started on the green + button, which in my experiense consistently sets the window to a random size and position, usually smaller than the original size. It just does not work.

    But a similar thing can be said for Exposé, which cannot consistently put window thumbnails in a certain place, as windows open & close and change position and size during a typical session. So I find it a toy replacement for Windows' taskbar, which remains the best and most efficient option -- as long as window grouping is turned off.

    If you really only want to minimize the active window, clicking on it's
    start bar icon is faster, because it has what is
    known as "infinite height"
    and also considerable more width.

    Only in XP or higher, and in XP, it't simplemented via dumb hack: left-mousedown on the bottom-most pixel row will make windows put the mouse cursor up 2 pixels, which ensures the mouseUp event is on the button. But that's in classic style, and only sometimes doesn't work properly for taskbar buttons. The Start button is properly and effectively infinite size in both themes. It's great, though I usually hit the Start key on my keyboard.

    I can't tell you how annoying it is to have the OSX close button a tiny dot, instead of Window's infinite button.

    Not only is the minimize button
    small, it also on the wrong side (in Windows). Mouses tend to drift
    towards the left side, because that's where you find most clickable
    controls. (I long for the days of  my NeXT box with its vertical scroll
    bars on the left side, which is actually the right side for them.)

    I've never noticed any distinct tendency of my mouse cursor to move to the left or right, regardless of wherever clickable controls may be. I consider that left-right issue debatable. Any studies you know of? We can figure stuff out logically, but the law of interfaces is that you can't say anything about them until they've been tested in lots of "typical" situations.



  • Ugh. So tell me, how does a language-proficient person such as I write an error such as "experiense"?



  • @dhromed said:

    I've never noticed any distinct tendency of my mouse cursor to move to the left or right, regardless of wherever clickable controls may be. I consider that left-right issue debatable. Any studies you know of?

    This study reports that users are reliably faster with scrollbars on the same side as the justification.

    That means, with UI layouts are usually left-justified, scrollbars on the left are more efficient. I'm happy to generalize those findings to other kinds of controls, although you rightly say I shouldn't.



  • @PSWorx said:

     And as always when the Fight or Flight program is activated, rational thinking as well as learning processes are  suppressed in favor of reflex actions. One of the most spectacular examples of those reflex actions is IMO the famous "OK reflex": When a program pops up an error message, or even just a dialog, those people immediately start to panic. "Oh god what does it do now? What should I do?? No time to think! Quick, or the wolf gets me!". In that reflex they do what seems as the quickest way to make the evil box go away: Hit OK. They never realized that, maybe, you could actually read a dialog because they didn't think at all during the process.

    Funny, i had an experience with the same user where they were testing the new spell checker we'd integrated into the program.  She said the spell check was finding her spelling mistakes but not correcting them, when i went over to her to see what was happening i noticed she was just clicking the add button everytime it found a misspelling.  She just wanted to make the dialogue go away and hadn't acually bothered to read any of the buttons, add just seemed to be the one that git rid of the dialogue quickest so that's what she pressed, so when the words weren't being corrected this was considered by her an error.  It did not even occur to her to stop, slow down and read what was on the screen, she just wanted the dialogue gone as quickly as possible. 



  • I run across these kinds of users alot too.  Once you notice them, make a mental note to NEVER ask them to test your software.  It's a good idea also to not let them be "key users" on a project either, unless they bring something else to the table and will never really go near the computer.

    It's funny:  the FIRST time I met someone like this was in college when I volunteered to tutor peers in computer classes.  I got assigned this one lady.  Our first session went something like this

    me:  type (this command) and press enter

    She:  (does so and then waits for me to instruct her further)

    me:  it's prompting you, just answer the question it's asking

    She:  looks at screen for a long time, then looks at me

    me:  (letting her off the hook)  click there

    She:  (does so and then looks at me again)

    Me:  what is it asking you?

    She:  (looks)  I don't know

    Turns out she couldn't read English.  *headdesk*





  • @dhromed said:

    Ugh. So tell me, how does a language-proficient person such as I ...

    Me don't know



  • [edit]



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    I run across these kinds of users alot too.  Once you notice them, make a mental note to NEVER ask them to test your software.  It's a good idea also to not let them be "key users" on a project either, unless they bring something else to the table and will never really go near the computer.

    It's funny:  the FIRST time I met someone like this was in college when I volunteered to tutor peers in computer classes.  I got assigned this one lady.  Our first session went something like this

    me:  type (this command) and press enter

    She:  (does so and then waits for me to instruct her further)

    me:  it's prompting you, just answer the question it's asking

    She:  looks at screen for a long time, then looks at me

    me:  (letting her off the hook)  click there

    She:  (does so and then looks at me again)

    Me:  what is it asking you?

    She:  (looks)  I don't know

    Turns out she couldn't read English.  *headdesk*

    I was helping out a guy in our A+ class while we were learning how to use DOS to make directories/files format and partition, I spent 8 hours with him over two days going in this nice loop.
    Command = CD
    First = 2
    :start
    Command = (command == CD) ? MD : CD;
    Function = (command == CD) ? make : change;
    If (First == 0) {
    	Me: Now we need to Function directory
    	Me: Go ahead and do that
    	Him: How?
    	Me: *sigh*
    } else {
    	First--;
    }
    Me: Command stands for Function directory
    Me: To Function directory type Command and directory name
    Him: Okay, got it
    Me: Okay, good
    goto start
    


  • dhromed, you got WORKED in this thread. sorry dude. :-)

    to everyone else... 95% of the world's population is replete with stupidity.



  • @Lingerance said:

    @jetcitywoman said:

    I run across these kinds of users alot too.  Once you notice them, make a mental note to NEVER ask them to test your software.  It's a good idea also to not let them be "key users" on a project either, unless they bring something else to the table and will never really go near the computer.

    It's funny:  the FIRST time I met someone like this was in college when I volunteered to tutor peers in computer classes.  I got assigned this one lady.  Our first session went something like this

    me:  type (this command) and press enter

    She:  (does so and then waits for me to instruct her further)

    me:  it's prompting you, just answer the question it's asking

    She:  looks at screen for a long time, then looks at me

    me:  (letting her off the hook)  click there

    She:  (does so and then looks at me again)

    Me:  what is it asking you?

    She:  (looks)  I don't know

    Turns out she couldn't read English.  *headdesk*

    I was helping out a guy in our A+ class while we were learning how to use DOS to make directories/files format and partition, I spent 8 hours with him over two days going in this nice loop.
    Command = CD
    First = 2
    :start
    Command = (command == CD) ? MD : CD;
    Function = (command == CD) ? make : change;
    If (First == 0) {
    Me: Now we need to Function directory
    Me: Go ahead and do that
    Him: How?
    Me: *sigh*
    } else {
    First--;
    }
    Me: Command stands for Function directory
    Me: To Function directory type Command and directory name
    Him: Okay, got it
    Me: Okay, good
    goto start

    Argh! Quote your strings!
     


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