Posted by: mumriken | November 2, 2011

Oh, it is simple… You only have to…

This is one of my favourite indications of bad design. You complain about something that doesn’t work, and then immediately some technical wizard comes up and says, “Oh, that is so simple! You only have to… ” and then follows a short or long sentence of computer gibberish.

Mind you, I often complain about things that I know how to handle or problem I know the solution to. I don’t even want to know how to solve it, I just want to point to that the problem exists. But when someone goes into the “you-only-have-to”-mode, then I have the definite proof of that the thing could have been better designed, or easier to use. You shouldn’t only have to “ooogle the burkyfizer” in order to use something (didn’t you understand my computereze?).

Recently I wrote on facebook about the problem with having different good passwords on all your web sites. That is difficult for all who have bad memory, at least (maybe people with a normal memory capacity can remember several “ir%T2frtdi334_” passwords, I don’t know, I can’t). Immediately there was a comment that noted that it is not difficult at all. You only have to (!) get a friendly (sic!) computer that helps you remember all the different passwords and then lock it with a “super password”.

A good solution! That you may use several different computers, or even public ones, is not a problem, of course. Or if your friendly computer gets a hard disk crash, and forgets all your passwords at once, that could never happen. Actually, when you don’t have your friendly computer with you, then you are completely free of the problem of logging in, because you have definitely not memorized the password, once you have confided your friendly computer with all your different passwords.

The most solid solution is still to have post-it notes on your desktop, computer screen, or on the archive drawers (the only thing people use them for today seem to be to hold the post-it notes with passwords).

As long as we have to use passwords to log in rather than other solutions based on something that is simple to remember, we have a usage problem, that will keep people frustrated.

PS. The person who suggested a “friendly” computer? A computer scientist, of course. What else?

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