[Usability] Re: [Desktop_architects] Printing dialog and GNOME

On Tue, 2005-12-13 at 10:04 -0500, Mike Shaver wrote:
> On 13-Dec-05, at 1:45 AM, Christopher Blizzard wrote:
> > First, I want to throw out the word "Usability."  I hate it.  Hate  
> > hate
> > hate.  Because it describes something that doesn't exist in the real
> > world.  Why?  Because as you have discovered it's entirely subjective.
> Subjective personal response to things _does_ exist in the real  
> world, and is the basis for such promising new developments as  
> "love", "democracy", and "advertising".  That you can't quantify how  
> much a user enjoys using your software doesn't mean that you  
> shouldn't care about it, or try to improve it in the aggregate or  
> even for a specific high-value user.  Optometrists don't measure how  
> much better A looks than B, but that I can tell them which I prefer  
> lets them hone in pretty well on which lenses I should be wearing.

I'll explain that in a different way; Talking about this thing called
"usability" ends up setting up a discussion in which the participants
project their own experiences onto the original decisions which were
made, without talking about the process itself or the data that led up
to those discussions.  You start at the end instead of the beginning.  I
see this over and over.

Not that I'm suggesting that the process itself isn't subjective - it
is.  But at least if you talk about where you started you can at least
gain a little sympathy about why you made a certain choice in a user's

> > We're not treating people like idiots, we're just
> > trying to make an operating system that tries to make computers not  
> > get
> > in the way but instead enable a large number of people to get useful
> > work done.
> You're trying to make a _free_ operating system that gets out of the  
> way.  Sometimes it's likely that you'll have to compromise on some  
> element of Just Works to preserve that.  Firefox could make a number  
> of sites Just Work by pulling up Trident or running ActiveX (via  
> Wine, even!), but we don't because "Just Work" is not our only goal.   
> Managing expectations in users is an important part of helping their  
> experience along, IMO.
> Mike

Oh, sure.  I'm talking about a goal, not reality here. :)  But a "just
works" goal as a driving force creates real end user benefit in the end,
even if it can't be perfectly attained in every case.  Maybe goal is the
wrong word here.  A better word is probably "mentality."


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