Following an article in which a 60-year-old man who had never used a computer was asked to locate a restaurant, Stack Exchange UX has a post on tips or guidelines for designing for such users: What are some best practices to follow when designing for users completely unfamiliar with computers?
There are a handful of ideas presented, such as:
Instead of saying “right click”, we might show a picture of the mouse with the right button highlighted, with a “clicking” animation indicating the action to be performed.
Makes sense, right? To someone who’s never used a computer, the term “right-click” isn’t really going to mean anything.
But I have a question.
Isn’t this kind of a waste of time?
How many people are there like this? It’s currently 2011. Half-way through 2011. Computers were introduced to the mainstream decades ago. Certainly not everyone is a tech guru, but computers aren’t exactly a rarity today. They’re everywhere. Most low-end cellphones today have more computing power than NASA had available to put a man on the moon.
While we should certainly consider the needs of people who are less familiar with computers than we nerds, and people who may have challenges – whether mental, visual, physical or otherwise – do we really need to go to the absolute base level of assuming they’ve never so much as used a mouse?
It strikes me that designers, developers, UX strategists and the like can make better use of their time than trying to accommodate the needs of a theoretical user that’s never once used a computer. We don’t put animated labels on car doors showing how to manipulate the handle – even if you’re not able to drive or have some sort of handicap, you can still figure out a door handle. Why are computers any different?
Obviously this is more of a rant than anything, and I fully expect to get some kind of flaming responses calling me insensitive or something. But really. The guy has never used a computer so we need to rethink UX?