Software

Self-evident computing: What does it mean for the future?

We have started to witness the triumph of the self-evident user experience. See what it will mean for the future of the tech industry and IT jobs.

I recently challenged a product person at Google, asking if a certain option -- toggling on or off Gmail's threaded conversation view -- would be possible on a thread by thread basis. The Googler responded that it was certainly possible but that they wouldn't do it. Why? Because it would introduce complexity and confusion for users.

I smiled and said, "I'm really glad you guys think that way, even if the product doesn't let me do exactly what I want."

Why would I say that, and why is this significant?

Because, it's the exact opposite approach of the old way of building products in the technology industry, and it's a symbol of the new formula of discipline that is powering today's best tech products. Over the next decade this principle is going to change the balance of power in the tech industry and have a major impact on the job roles in the tech workforce.

The old model

Let's pick on Microsoft Word as an example of the old way. Although it is far from alone in this phenomenon, it is one of the most popular software applications of all time. The product started out great. It was one of the first word processors to offer WYSIWYG and introduce a toolbar. It quickly conquered text-based Word Perfect by the mid-1990s.

But, then lots of different Windows and Mac users told Microsoft all of the things they wished the product could do or ways that they wished it would work and Microsoft took the best suggestions and kept adding on more and more features and options to the point that today's Word is so bloated, over-complicated, and bogged down with options that it's often difficult to figure out how to do basic tasks. In fact, it often requires a bunch of documentation and training to figure out how to use it.

This pattern has played itself out thousands of times with products as large as ERP suites and Microsoft Office and as small as the line-of-business apps that power niche industries within government and health care, for example. It evens plays itself out in hardware (although software continues to become increasingly more important than hardware). Think of the laptops and desktops with lots of redundant ports and tons of confusing buttons and unused function keys.

All of these traditional tech products were the result of an industry racing to catch up with the relentless demand for computer technology. We had a phrase for this when we first started TechRepublic. We used to say, "We're building the plane while we were flying it."

The problem with that approach is that it typically allows inefficiencies to creep into the process and less thought is dedicated up front to the overall design and architecture of the product. In other words, it fosters a lack of discipline.

A self-evident user experience

The new way of building tech products is about less rather than more. It's about removing (or never implementing) rarely-used features rather than piling on as many as you can cram into a product. It's about not being hyper-reactive to a handful of user requests that may not reflect the larger user base. Most of all, it's about discipline -- the discipline to stick to a product's core functionality and avoid the temptation of product creep.

The end game of this disciplined approach is building products that have a user experience (UX) that is almost completely self-evident. That's why products with stripped-down GUIs and feature sets like the iPad, Android, Gmail, and Salesforce.com have become meteoric success stories.

A user doesn't need to approach any of those products with a user manual in hand or a half-day training course under his belt. The user experience is self-evident.

And, once people start experiencing these types of self-evident user experiences, it changes their expectations for the other systems they work with. They start wanting and expecting tech products that just work and that don't require a manual or help from an IT expert to set up and use.

For product builders, the tough part of instituting this kind of discipline is that you have to get comfortable saying "No" a lot. There are tons of ideas, features, and options that sound good when you're building a product but you have to create a process that weeds out the unnecessary and is continually in a state of brutally paring down to only the absolute core functionality.

Many of the incumbent tech companies do not have the culture, talent, or processes in place to do that. Plus, many are saddled with backward compatibility issues that keep them from making bold moves into the future. Nokia and BlackBerry are excellent examples. Both are under attack from newer systems that are far more self-evident (iPhone and Android) but have a large installed base that they don't want to alienate by iterating too quickly. In both cases, they've ended with over-complicated products that suffer from many of the same maladies as Microsoft Word.

It's tempting to think that only startups or new products from big companies can achieve this kind of discipline to produce self-evident products. However, even Microsoft is showing signs that its "gets it" on this topic. Look at the Bing search engine and the Windows Phone 7 platform and you can see that the company had the guts to blow up the previous products and start over from scratch with a far simpler and more self-evident product. Of course, what they do with their two core products, Windows and Office, will likely be a different story but at least a couple of their product groups are making the right moves.

Some of you will take this idea of self-evident UX to mean that the tech products are going to be dumbed down and become less sophisticated. That will be an easy criticism to make since many successful products won't pile on as many features and will be more discriminating about the ones they do include. But, as Leonardo da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

What it means for tech workers

The move toward a self-evident user experience is going to have several natural consequences for the technology professionals who work with these products on a daily basis. In many ways, these IT pros have benefited from the overly complex and sometimes convoluted technology products because they were the ones who helped sort everything out for the users. That won't be the case for much longer.

There will be fewer jobs for IT pros who focus primarily on assisting users to learn and troubleshoot new and existing technologies. A lot of the IT jobs will shift toward project management (selecting the right products), programming (building next generation software), and the data center (working in the NOCs of large service providers).

This change isn't going to happen all at once next week or next month, or even next year. It's a process. It's already happening in many places, but it's something that is going to gradually unfold over a decade. Some places will hit a tipping point before others, but if you're a traditional IT professional you need to be aware of this changing dynamic and changing set of user expectations, because these are the factors that will fuel many of the changes in the tech industry in the years ahead.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

154 comments
ElijahKam
ElijahKam

200,000 apps on theIPhone. Is that an example of self-evidence?

ajhyman
ajhyman

I understand the general thrust of your supposition, but I?m afraid I don?t fully agree with your conclusions. For example, you focus on Google?s more ?self-evident? and simplistic approach to the GUI, but in my opinion, you either ignore or miss what Google and others have been trying to do, which might better be described as ?modularization.? In Google?s case, from my single user account I have access to email, groups, photo storage, blogging tools, website site authoring tools, geotagging, video storage, RSS reading, spreadsheets, word processing, etc. etc. Quite the contrary to your hypothesis, Google isn?t about ?less rather than more? - in my opinion, it?s definitely all about more ? but they?ve taken a much more modular approach to it, and in doing so, presumably made it (theoretically) possible for us to pick and choose which modules we want to engage and which ones we don?t. I would further posit that most of the recent successful applications and technologies we are seeing are taking this approach. And I even think companies like Microsoft have seen this and are working towards that goal; their big problem is that they have to play catch up and re-engineer everything to get there. Plus, it may just be that companies like Google simply have better GUI designers on staff as well.

uday.wali
uday.wali

I have a mixed opinion on this. I have been building complex applications for few decades now. But I do see a change coming, slowly but definitely. This change is similar to what RISC did to CISC architecture. We claim often that our Users are 'stupid' because the we(developers) do not fully appreciate their requirement or domain. In fact this has been one of the main reasons for some of our products failing in the market, even when the product is technically superior to those from our competition. The root cause of the problem is that developers believe that they are some what more 'intelligent' than the end users (because the end user could not develop the software himself/herself). End users, on the otherhand, are not purterbed by the knowledge/experience of the programmer. They simply want their process to work as the did all the time. It takes time for us, developers, to appreciate why the end user knows and adjust the software to mirror their existing process. That way, end users have nothing new to learn - they are simply using a new tool to do what they always did. That is the gist of the argument. Sooner we recognize this, better is the chance of our survival. Why not start thinking all a-fresh? A happy user will bring our next customer. Nothing but a satisfied customer will keep us ticking.

l_e_cox
l_e_cox

Is this some sort of new catch phrase? I hope it makes more sense to product designers than it does to me! What happened to plain old "easy to use?" The fact is, there is user training behind the proper use of ANY product. For example, how "self-evident" is a pair of scissors? The main reason that most people find scissors easy to use, besides good design, is that almost everyone is trained to use them. Even so, skill at using scissors varies, and can be acquired through more training. I don't think we need a new catch phrase. We just need good sense. Employers want ubiquitous technologies to have short learning curves. Users of personal hardware and software also prefer a "natural" or "intuitive" user experience. With an extremely versatile product like Word, I am probably unaware of features I could use or how to customize the app for what I want to do with it. That's a real problem with a one-app-fits-all design approach. I think that a better description of where we should be going is smaller, more specialized apps. I build custom electronics. I regularly use about 20 simple tools to do this. The trick is to keep them all easily available on my bench top so I can work quickly and efficiently. Software design presents a similar challenge.

pvitkus
pvitkus

UX - the new intuitive. Great article, I'm passing it on to my User Interface / Human Factors Analyst friend! Phil

Elvis.GodZilla.777
Elvis.GodZilla.777

Anyone good at anything knows his/her basics. Everything else is fluff. Creature comforts are not fluff if those comforts are necessary. A vehicle that parks itself sounds kind of niche to me, but hey having a chaufer to park the car sounds even more niche. Build for your clients most basic needs, and sell them on enhancements. I'll take the chaufer.

jdev1
jdev1

Kiss (Keep It Simple Stupid) your renamed new rule is on the button

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

That's both simple and self-evident. If we want to have a solid basic framework, with addable or scriptable options, then that's not going to be either. If we want a program that can help us easily do what we want to do... with an infinite possible number of wants; how's that going to work out? Just having trouble seeing the ways.

rajeshthambi
rajeshthambi

Great article. Often we forget the very purpose of software and make it complicated. I have done ERP implementations and feel the key to success is making it simple.

dogknees
dogknees

Can we make an app that lets people so something that was previously not even possible self-evident? How do you make it self-evident that there is a facility in a program that has no real-world equivalent? My usual benchmark for these ideas about interfaces is a full function 3d modelling and animation application like Maya. How do you make all the possibilities of this level of app self-evident? I'm all for making things as simple as possible, so long as there is no decrease in functionality and no increase in the number or complexity of steps taken to achieve the result you want. Wizards are a great example of where "simplifying" makes things harder to use. If I can't see all the settings, how will I be able to determine how they interact. Going back and forth through the screens trying things is not more efficient, it's worse.

bobabrahams
bobabrahams

While I agree that the UX should be self-evident (or, as we used to say, that the UI - user interface - should be intuitive), that doesn't mean that all "little-used" features should be dropped. If it takes that to create the self-evident UX, due to space, time or whatever limited resource, but the more obscure features can be placed in a way that they don't interfere with the main UI. This is quite possible for products such as text editors and spreadsheets. So let's not over-simplify products. Rather let's continue to be appropriately creative in making interfaces obvious.

nick
nick

Tidy House, Only one way to perform a particular function is a very good way of keeping things simple but the huge problem for the software writer is precisely where to drop this function so it fits neatly and intuitively into the interface. The good design requires understanding the working procedures of your users. A place for everything and everything in its place but where is that place? In the end the house model often works well. You should try to have as few doors as possible into the kitchen but you may still need a back door a dining room door and a living room door to avoid too many unnecessary detours, just so long as it is still basically the SAME kitchen no matter which way you came but with perhaps some cupboards and appliances nearer each door. If you must add hardly used but to some essential functions tuck them neatly out of the way so they do not distract basic users. Do not confuse neat and fast with short. If a button leads to a display panel with three choice buttons it does not take the experienced user any longer to select the right choice if this panel also contains a detailed description of what each button does and some helpful advice on related features and how to use them. This way using and learning can coexist. Assuming your PC has a big screen use it!

vucliriel
vucliriel

... only in the mind of the beholder, and simplification only works when you give the user the CHOICE to simplify to his or her own needs. In contrast, Google believes it knows best what its users need, willfully refusing options that are self evident for many, such as the ability to see emails as letters instead of simplified 3 word shouts end removing such basic options as "Sort", resulting in an incredibly frustrating experience. I fought THREE YEARS on their "Get Satisfaction" (yeah, right!) site for the OPTION to turn that dreaded 'Conversation View Off, because it made me lose so many emails! Sorry, but I won't be using any of their products soon. (Yes, that includes Chrome - Where's the beef, Google?) Giving the choice of Conversation view per subject is a simple matter of classifying an email as a 'letter' (most emails are in fact letters, in my experience) in opposition to Google's idea, which is just glorified chat. *** So, you see, what is self evident for some is completely obtuse to others. Believing, as a software company, that you know it all is absurd and a sure recipe for corporate suicide. Self evident apps? Great Idea! Bust just you try to tell the arrogant MS and Google software architects for whom it's only self evident if THEY say it is! Let them go back to school, learn a bit about the Personal Computer Revolution and start by giving users control back over their computers, like they had until about 15 years ago. Now that would be progress... But that would not be 'self evident' for the bean counters and marketers that have taken over this industry...

HillbillyBrit
HillbillyBrit

Well, it does, doesn't it? It's easy to agree that Word is bloated and senile. It reached its peak about ten years ago. How I wish Microsoft still sold that version! I'd be willing to pay a premium for it! It did everything you needed and it did it how you would expect. Now you have to wrestle control back from out-of-control features that want to do it THEIR way. And the point is: I don't want to invest serious effort in working out how to use a word processor, even though I use it a lot. I just want it to work. But something that does a specific, more high-tech job is different. Take ERWin, for instance - probably the most fully-featured data modeling tool on the market. It's very powerful and flexible - and you don't mind investing a bit of time to learn how to use it, for the coonsiderable benefits it gives. Not that I'm saying ERWin is a role-model, you understand. It could definitely be a lot more intuitive and provide better help. Those are the two features you really need in a more complex tool, like this.

horngary
horngary

I agree in principle with the writer. Technology that does not have a self-evident value to the massses will disappear. Great quote by DaVinci. It does require great sophistication to keep something important simple.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

There's an underlying and unstated assumption in this entire thread: that someone knows what they want to do and what the program is supposed to be able to do before they ever lay eyes on it. Until and unless those conditions are met, "self evident" does not apply to any program. "Intuitive" is equally dependent an a whole lot of prior knowledge and equally irrelevant if it's not there. If one doesn't know what email is and what the commonly accepted forms and protocols (human convnetions, not SMTP/POP/IMAP) are (From:, To: Subject:, ), no email program can be "self-evident" or "intuitive". And if a program deviates from those commonly accepted forms and protocols, it's still neither "self-evident" or "intuitive". I've used email programs from various version of Groupwise to Pegasus to Outlook/Exchange to Hotmail and Gmail, so I meet the criteria for having some idea of what the program is supposed to do and I know what I want to do. That said, I find Gmail's way of tracking threads and making a reply to be totally foreign and confusing, because it's different than all those other email programs I've used. In short, "self-evident" or "intuitive" are both a lot like Supreme Court Justine Potter Stewart's definition of pornography: "... hard to define, but that 'I know it when I see it.'"

mbrown
mbrown

This is actually dumbing down technology so you can sale more products to lazy, ignorant people. I contend that Word is self-evident and also bloated (I agree on that point, trying to satisfy too many customers), but if I need to find out how to do something, I can almost always just poke around and figure it out, Google works on those occasions where I cannot or do not want to take the time to figure it out myself. It always amazes me how many people are completely incapable of doing that for themselves. Some are lazy, using the nearest IT brain instead of their own, but some people truly seem to lack the capacity to figure out technology (I get why many older people have problems, but younger people really have no excuse). In order to sale more and more software, it must be made simpler to operate for the simple people who just have to have the latest gadget. Apple has done extremely well using that strategy and creating the "must have" products. Certainly makes them richer and creates a loyal fan base, just don't expect me to buy into it as well.

systemsgod
systemsgod

It will play itself out. Those who fail to deliver what the customer wants (and think they know what is best for the customer) will ultimately fail. So, you can choose to ignore your customers requests if you want, but its really not a good business model as your customers will just take their business elsewhere.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

The SaaS provider can charge a monthly fee, not add a plethora of features and not have to worry about diminishing returns. If the customer doesn't pay, the customer can't work. However, the COTS publisher has to worry about diminishing returns and continuously selling software. That's why they release bloated software with a plethora of new features in order to attract new customers. Unfortunately, a COTS publisher can't just sell 1 million copies of version 1.0 and expect to stay in business. A SaaS provider, however, with 1 million customers paying a monthly fee is in good shape. There's no incentive to include radical changes. In fact, it becomes more of a liability as they don't want to piss off suscribers.

cjuEngineer
cjuEngineer

This really all sounds like what UIE's Jared Spool calls the effect of Market Maturity. He states any given market is in one of four stages: 1. Novel Functionality & Technology 2. It's all about Features 3. Focus on the Experience 4. Supporting a Commodity Jason's article is stage 3 which you can read about here: http://www.uie.com/articles/derivingdesignstrategy2/.

SaintGeorge
SaintGeorge

MS products are bloated because they do not care. Of course if they keep piling feature upon feature it's going to become a maze. Why not use a tiered approach, where each level of user enables the features they need? As an IT professional I never use more than 2 fonts in about 3 sizes, bold and italic, simple tables, and that's about it. I certainly don't need the zillion options easy to understand after two years of intensive certification, after which they will introduce a completely new interface. And since that approach didn't collapse MS, of course it spread to other companies. After all, sound technology is not necessary anymore to survive. Just good marketing and commercial strategies.

TGGIII
TGGIII

There has never been a substitute for good design. The old saying that "brevity is the soul of wit" is living proof that powerful simplicity has been prized for a long long time. A subtitle to your post is Form Catching Up to Function. Technology is becoming more like your microwave oven: simple user interface with an increasingly complex machine behind it. Because of this, I encourage everyone to learn requirements, analysis, logic and design skills. Just like the Wizard of Oz, Gee Whiz will not save us; we have to fulfill form AND function in the real world. Thank you for an excellent topic.

smankinson
smankinson

I am wondering how your phrase 'self-evident' is the same or different than 'intuitive', which is the way I have often described products - 'as being less than intuitive'...

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Have you seen a toaster of late? NOT a new concept, and a concept users have been screaming for since the beginning of the "user friendly" garbage came out.

adrian.firth
adrian.firth

You're confusing simple with easy. Taking iPhone as an example, the Apple ecosystem tries to make things easy but does so at the expense of flexibility. There's nothing simple about this - it is complex to deliver ease of use. Compare to the Android ecosystem, which is emerging as a real success story despite the "UX" being relatively tough on the user c.f. Apple. Simplicity begets flexibility, but it might mean "UX" is less polished and thereby less easy-going. Put another way: what mobile device would Da Vinci use?

chriselliott
chriselliott

Hiner, I think in this case you're overreaching quite a bit. Sometimes complexity is exactly what you need. In the case of MS Word, there is a lot of power that is added to the work that I do because of the complexity in that application. I'm a software designer, and the extra features really make my life a lot easier. Training in MS Word was an unfortunate reality for a lot of workers in industry, but it has proved to be very useful. And this training isn't just useful for someone who is a "power" user, like myself. I think you've had a bit too much to drink of the simplicity kool-aid. Look at Gmail. On the surface it is very easy to use, but underneath there are hundreds of options (now) to customize it and make it as flexible as Outlook-esque email. The product evolved, and it became more complex. Yes, the UI is still relatively simple, but it is NOT as simple as when it was first introduced.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

In defense of Word, Microsoft has tried to implement some of your ideas, although not as extensively as it might. The installation program for the Office products gives reasonable control over what is and is not installed. Don't use the equation editor? Fine, cut the bloat and leave it out. And there is the option to always show full menus, or to show first only what the user is likely to need. Personally, I prefer software that incorporates the complexity you decry, so long as it includes toggles to let me tailor the product's features to the way I work.

fernando_salazar
fernando_salazar

Simplicity for basic tasks is fine, but if you've ever made a complex, multi-100's of pages doc, split into many files, sharing styles, index and ToC, I don't think the "iPad-like" UI model is going to work. Things should be as simple as they can be made -- but no simpler than that.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

Dumbing down should not the future. But sadly it looks like the noobification of the computer world is inevitable... I don't see why we should lower ourselves to help computer illiterate people. Natural selection would be able to do its job.

KiloWatt1975
KiloWatt1975

You hit the nail with the hammer. Even Profs get lost to know a PLA controls PLC's. I will take a self to Experienced IT guy, over some wanna be. I'm teaching Flux Capacitor Theorms these daze, even if I can't spleel........LOL KiloWatt

gak
gak

Since currently everyone has access to computer technology, dumb software has better chances to get broader user base. I see the self evident user interface as only one part of the race for user control and manipulation, along with virtualization, SaaS, Cloud, and the array of App Stores. However, the true task of a programmer is to investigate some problem area and write down the findings so that both a human and a machine can read them. Unfortunately, following this principle literally is not very profitable since, due to the slow pace of change in most problem areas, it cannot be sold repeatedly. Thus, even the old style applications were seldom built right. MS Word GUI is bloated and unintuitive not because there are too many features but because their is no well structured code base to support the GUI. With me, a good text processor can never be self evident since typography is a complex area and I do not know much about it while the text editor authors and, consequently, the editor they made should know a lot for the editor to be good. This does not mean that it cannot have a (much) better GUI than MS Word. It means there will be areas where I will not be able to use the editor properly without reading a book first. The dumb "self evident" software for the masses will be created and widely used, no doubt. I agree that the most natural outcome is that it will drag the whole industry further down, that is, "this principle is going to change the balance of power". However, doing so it will add to the tension between that which is and that which can/should be. Thus, a disruption is theoretically possible.

Whodaht
Whodaht

At first I was like "huh", then I was like "hmm?" ... then I wondered when articles and blog posts would become self evident to save me time. And I'm no master of the English language, but I don't think "self-evident" is the right phrase. Reminds me of the scientists that balked in The Right Stuff, and said "zis is the way it is, hmph" when the astronaut-pilots wanted a window. To them their capsule was self-evident; but it changed anyway.

rexyosu
rexyosu

I humbly disagree with your assertion that fewer features make for a better product. The challenge isn't to say "No." The challenge is to say "Yes" without the added complexity. Any software company that can master that dominate its niche.

kpthottam
kpthottam

Let us not forget that for an aircraft pilot, the aircraft control panel is self-evident while for the driver of a car it is not. The concept that like email all ERPs, CRMs etc must be self-evident is true only to the extent of the business domain expert within that particular enterprise. However I challenge you to show me 2 different enterprises that do business the exact same way. Since there aren't any out there , we will always require IT staff for configuring the application to met the needs for that particular enterprise. Or as you put it, make the software self evident.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Getting the user experience down well enough to be able to match the interface to the process is extremely difficult. I was in training development for several years of my USAF career. In those years, I developed two training courses. The vast majority of time in development was spent validating the user experience to ensure that we had it right and weren't training new troops to the wrong procedures. The best thing that could happen is for the interface designer to observe the process step-by-step. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Robininja
Robininja

New rule? whose rule? self evident I think a bit too subjective. I also have a problem with the "wilfull laziness" that exist in the average user, grabbing the nearest I.T. Brain available is becoming too widespread.

jk2001
jk2001

Microwave oven? That has become more complex over time. The interface is horrible. The only simplification has been "minute plus" where you push it once, and it adds a minute of cook time. I live by that button and have conveniently forgotten how to use the rest of the features. The ideal microwave interface is a dial, but lacking that, it would be as follows: ----------------- [ADD ONE MINUTE] [add 15 seconds] ----------------- 15 seconds is just enough time to warm up a little sauce or soften butter. The clock should be set by radio, like modern digital clocks.

Just Watching Now
Just Watching Now

We don't lack engineers. We lack philosophers, but we'll get over it.

Vorpaladin
Vorpaladin

I like the MS Office products. They don't assume I am brain damaged and offer me the tools I need to make exactly the document or presentation I want and need. They can do a lot, and as a result they have a lot of controls. Exactly as it should be. I would not use a version of Word with a dumbed-down interface, which is EXACTLY what Jason is talking about, even if he doesn't think so.

lovingNJ
lovingNJ

I agree. If you can have a lot of features if they are organized in a way that is clear. There can be "modes" or "levels". I really don't like the phrase "self-evident" - "self-evident" to who? It often seems to boil down to learning the products "paradigm" - if that paradigm matches the way you think, it seems simple and perhaps self evident.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

A big part of the challenge isn't "yes" or "no", it's the user actually understanding what they're asking for. For example, on a batch mainframe project a manager demanded a GUI. When asked what she thought a GUI was she replied that she didn't know, she just read about them and decided that the project needs one.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I purchased my second MP3 player a couple of months ago, a SanDisk Sansa that replaced my two year old Toshiba. The Toshiba had four rectangular buttons arranged in a cross, with a fifth button at the intersection. The two vertical ones turned the volume up or down. The Sanyo has a big round 'button' with a smaller button inset in the center. I was able to get started with it, but pushing the top or bottom of the outer button did nothing to the volume. I was waiting to have the car's oil changed so I gave myself that long to figure it out 'intuitively' for myself. After 30 minutes of being unable turn up the sound, I reached for the 'manual'. Unfortunately, all it contained was vague illustrations and the URL for the full manual. When I got home and downloaded the .PDF, I learned that what I thought was a large 'button' was actually a horizontally mounted wheel, and that spinning it clockwise or CCW adjusted the volume. This may have been 'intuitive' to some (mostly those who learned to use other devices with this type of control) but never occurred to me. My experiences with other devices led me to expect specific actions to generate specific results. I was unable to apply that knowledge and couldn't see any other way to do what I wanted.

Ron_007
Ron_007

just hop into any new car. You expect them to be "self evident". Try and figure out where the "key" is in one of the new "push button" jobs. Even finding simple controls like door handles, locks or even transmission is no longer "self evident" because every manufacturer is trying to be unique.

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

Attorneys use Word features that NOBODY else seems to use. Scientists use databases and graphics differently as well. Engineers use Excel and AutoCAD for a lot of work. Joe Merchant might use Word to post his grocery list. Everyone's different.

vucliriel
vucliriel

... is that any 'self-evident' thing has largely become that way because it was LEARNED. And this is EXACTLY why I am so pi$$ed off at MS for their endless UI 'improvements' that in reality, turn something that had become 'self-evident' into a nightmare (especially when they decided the feature I have been using is not needed anymore). And would someone please tell MS that the a 'self-evident' UI would have the keyboard layout should be under Keyboard in control panel and NOT under "Regional Settings" and do other USEFUL things instead of FORCING a totally useless and aggravating 'Ribbon' on its long time users?! GAW!

vucliriel
vucliriel

... Sounds so much like what Dilbert's pointy haired boss would do, I'm sure someone will come up with the exact cartoon!

kpthottam
kpthottam

yes a good summary of my tryst with a new Hybrid rental. The lack of engine noise made matters worse :)

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Actually, not everyone. There are a number of other - and prior - posts that make exactly the point that both "self-evident" and "intuitive" are products of each individual's prior knowledge, training and experience. Which means that anyone claiming absolutely that any product either is, or is not, "self-evident", "intuitive", or both, is staking a claim to a level omniscience and omnipotence that he/she/it cannot support. One's opinion, absolutely, one's statement of scientific law, absolutely not. Just as claiming that "everyone" seems to forget something that has already been stated several time does.