Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Seven tricks that Web users don't know

This article seems to be doing the mozilla blog rounds currently: Carolyn Snyder's Seven tricks that Web users don't know (via Adot's Notblog, via Susan's 2020 Hindsight, via PapaScott, via Pepilog).

It's definitely an interesting article, and highlights something I've been aware of for a while:

average (that is, non-technical) users interact with computers very differently to the way the people I generally know (mostly techies like myself) interact with computers.
Non-technical users interactions tend to be a lot less complex than techies; where a techie might open a link in a new window (or tab if you're a mozilla person), leave their email client running most of the time, have an IM client in the system tray, and be listening to music, the average non-technical user is often baffled by task switching, and has no concept that something like clicking on a URL in an email will open a new browser, because they are not aware that email and web browsing are seperate things (for that matter, they probably wouldn't know what a browser actually is - "I use the big blue E, is that what you mean?").

This is something learnt through personal experience; I've done some ISP tech support at the last place I worked (people's general ignorance in that area was something I learnt not to be surprised at), and I've done some private tutoring stuff with older people - teaching how to read and send email, go to a web site, use google to search, simple things like that.

One interesting thing from the article:

The evidence cited in this article comes from several usability studies I conducted in 2000...
The article was published on June 1st 2001 - almost 3 years ago. It would be interesting to see if the average non-technical user's knowledge has increased with the increased penetration of the internet into everyday life over the last 3 years.


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