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GNOME Usability Study Report 313

Posted by michael
from the press-ctrl-alt-shift-k-q-z-to-continue dept.
pdiaz writes: "Here is a report made by Sun Microsystems people about GNOME usability. They collected a bunch of professionals (lawyers, engineers, Graphic Designers, etc..) and put them in front of a Gnome desktop. They were asked to perform some tasks and tell what some icons, menus, etc., do. Some quotes are really funny, like when they asked what does the terminal emulator icon launch." Very interesting stuff, and this approach is necessary because once you've gotten accustomed to the system it's no longer possible for you to evaluate how it appears to an inexperienced user.
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GNOME Usability Study Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Instead of being irate about people who can't understand everything as fast as you (or did you understand it all that quickly?), think about what they said. One complaint often made about Microsoft Windows was how confusing it was to find the settings you wanted, and how many places you could make the same change. Microsoft has listened to people and improved their interface. Windows 2000 is much easier to configure than Windows 95, because related settings are grouped together. I am not a Windows fan, but I think we can learn a lesson here. We do need a unified architecture for overall settings on both KDE and Gnome. Icons can be confusing, and tailoring them to make it easier for people to understand is not a BAD thing to do. If we want non Unix/Linux types to use our system, we have to at least try talking to them in terms they understand, instead of calling them stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interfaces should be natural. It should be no problem to go from unix to windows to mac to cpm to OS/390 to... It is, and that is a problem

    To drag out an overused quote: "The only intuitive interface is the nipple..."

    Seriously, there are no natural interfaces, merely familiar ones. Also, the easiest interface to learn isn't usually the most productive interface for an experienced user. When those goals conflict, designers should choose the productive interface over the easier one, since users will spend a lot less time learning the interface than they will spend using it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:35AM (#71943)
    > I think you'd have to agree that a button labeled "start" or "run" makes a lot more sense than a foot

    I suppose that makes sense pressing that "START" button to shut the machine down? Brilliant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:13AM (#71944)
    Some quotes are really funny, like when they asked what does the terminal emulator icon launch."

    It is exactly that attitude that makes Gnome unusable to the average PC user. Until that changes, Linux won't make inroads. Taco has already addressed this though. MS spends lots of money doing this kind of thing. The best we have done so far is a cheap rip off of that. We constantly rip on MS for bad software, yet when push comes to shove, we're just trying to give away free versions that look like theirs. It isn't working. This is an important first step in usability testing for Gnome. KDE would be wise to do the same, though they are probably about a decade (maybe a little less) ahead of Gnome in usability. Gnome could/can catch up by doing things like this. KDE can't remain idle, and MS won't remain idle.
  • by mosch (204)
    i do use a scheme that has this changed, but it wasn't the default. flexibility is nice, but it's even better when things just work.

    --
  • by mosch (204)
    it only solves the first issue, and that still depends on what theme you use. you can still logout with one click (or be presented with the 'do you wish to logout' dialog if you have confirmation on).

    --
  • by mosch (204)
    I know /. users like to deride Apple and its users, but...

    Not all /. users hate macs. I have all my audio equipment hooked to a mac, and my laptop is a mac.

    --

  • way to provide a link, slick. even knowing it's name, i couldn't find it in an acceptable amount of time (less than 2 minutes), seeing as you gave no useful information.

    --
  • by mosch (204) on Friday July 20, 2001 @09:53PM (#71953) Homepage
    my point is to be intelligent about what you copy. did you see me say it was a bad idea to adapt the start menu? no, because that's a UI element that almost everybody understands with very little transition time. In fact, gnome and kde improved it by not calling it 'start', thus eliminating the whole 'to shutdown the computer, first click start' nonsense. Once a user is shown that the 'K' or the foot is a menu, they understand.

    The problem is that almost nobody takes the time to think about what they're doing to decide if it's a good idea or not. Try navigating on a windows machine without a mouse; after a few minutes it's pretty easy. Try that with GNOME. Switch between apps and see if the keystrokes are consistent. see if the focus goes where you think it will in a complex form. most of the time, GNOME keyboard shortcuts are implemented as a complete afterthought, and it shows. If there's a GNOME standard for this, it's followed poorly.

    Additionally, most of the original desktop themes are just plain useless. they're:

    • pretty but useless [themes.org] -- how do you maximize one of those windows?
    • geeky and useless [themes.org] -- okay, tell me where i click to minimize, maximize, close, or stick the windows.
    • just plain dumb [themes.org] -- who the fuck knows how this works? i sure as hell don't, and I have better things to do than figuring it out.
    And the scary thing is all these themes have 10k+ downloads, and it took me about a minute to find these examples. I'm sure if I really cared I found find much better examples of what I'm talking about.

    I just spent 15 minutes looking for a truly good theme somewhere without success. that's a tragedy. that will hurt linux's mainstream acceptance far more than the fact that cmdrtaco was too dumb to buy a supported scanner.

    --

  • by mosch (204) on Friday July 20, 2001 @12:45PM (#71954) Homepage
    Studies like this will help make GNOME as usable as KDE, and maybe some day, both of these desktop systems will make an attempt to create usable UI, instead of simply copying MicroSoft, and calling it innovation.

    For example, why does everybody copy the design that the 'window kill' button should be right next to 'maximize'? That's horrible design, put window kill on the left, maximize and minize on the right.

    Why is it possible to click down on the 'K', move the mouse a few pixels up, release the mouse, and log yourself out. If you have a fast computer, and you use KDE, you've probably done this before.

    GNOME allows an application to use the entire task tray, then when you have two applications, it uses half that size.... and it squeezes down. It's efficient use of space, but it's inconsistent and makes it harder to tell with a single glance what's running. KDE makes good use of the space without this annoying inconsistancy.

    What the hell are these icons? Stop being cute, start being useful. If you're running KDE, hit the K menu now and tell me what the following icons mean 'quick browser', 'bookmarks', 'toys', 'system', 'preferences' (these last two are way too similar), multimedia or graphics. None of those icons gives you any intuitive notion of what you're about to launch.

    Additionally, I doubt I'm the only one who has taken the less-used apps in the menu for each level, made a folder called 'sewer' and stuck them in there. Yes, we're all proud that there are lots of applications now. No, we don't use 90% of them, and having them in our menus just slows us down.

    Things are improving, but it's still terribly ironic, the way copying Microsoft is referred to as innovation, yet when Microsoft copies, that's just plain wrong.

    --

  • To use your example of a friends car: I once drove a friends car, and while there were places where that was an issue, one statnds out that wasn't: The turn signal wasn't a lever on the stearing column, it was a switch on the dash. Yet I used that switch 10 times before I realised that it wasn't a lever! Whoever designed that interface made a major change, yet it was completely transparent to the user.

    Interfaces should be natural. It should be no problem to go from unix to windows to mac to cpm to OS/390 to... It is, and that is a problem

  • Another thing this reminds me of -- lots of people talk about the importance of the early learning curve, and the ease for new users. And then people talk about the power for highly experienced users. But there is little talk about moving from post-newbie to power user.

    A large portion of computer users are quite serious -- they spend a large portion of their time using computers. It is reasonable for them to invest time into improving their performance and expanding their abilities. They don't need to learn how to move files around or whatever -- they've figured out all that -- but they need to learn how to be the true masters of their computer.

    No one pays much attention to that step however. You are on your own -- some make the leap, some stumble. Not much effort is put into making this easier, though.

  • No one ever ever ever would use "shortcut" to mean hypertext link except Microsoft. That was my point.

    Yes, like a shortcut, MS's filesystem shortcuts get you someplace quicker, but half the time don't work. That's fine if they think shortcut is a better word there. But using it for hypertext links is stupid -- there is nothing except the link, there is no long path that a link is a shortcut to. It makes no sense, any metaphor that it implies is incorrect.

    The whole point of usability is not to do anti-intuitive, anti-conventional things like that (no matter how small a detail the word might be). So I would hope that no one would adopt that term in an effort to match MS.

  • Despite what people seem to think (not you, but many of the repliers), following MS is a bad strategy. As with many of their technical decisions, MS compromises usability and convention in order to make users who are familiar with MS uncomfortable with other systems. This has to be deliberate.

    MS uses the term "shortcut" where everyone else in the world uses "link". Not just those lame "shortcuts" in the filesystem, but IE uses that term for HTML links. This is from usability testing? Yeah, right.

    In FrontPage instead of having templates, like most HTML editors, FrontPage uses shared borders and themes, while "template" is used for something different. And it uses the term "web" where everyone else uses "site" -- the way they use "web" is simply stupid.

    I can't recall any others at the moment, but everytime I use some MS product I notice these minor, strange namings. They often forgo convention to use their own odd words. They want to invent a lingo so everyone is confused when they try something new, just like these people were.

    Trying to immitate that would be like using the Word .doc format for file saves -- it's hard enough just to import the crap, you can't expect to become the crap.

  • I'm not sure "shell" would mean any more than "terminal emulator"....
  • Not quite, in earlier versions of Windows the left-hand button brought up a menu of options, and double-clicking it closed the window. In fact it still does, but they changed it from looking like the button to being a tiny (and quite illegible) icon for the application.

    I suspect the test users found the double-click unintuitive. They should have scrapped the pulldown menu and made the button a close button, but somebody there wanted to keep it, and so they stuck a new button on the right.

    Unfortunately it is this same unwillingness to get rid of functions that is causing Gnome to bloat up just like Windows.

  • The advantage of "shell" is that it is a memorable word that can be fairly clearly said over the telephone.

    It should be easier to tell people to click "shell" or "run shell" than to say "run the terminal emulator program".

  • You will favor that until the moment that you need to type a filename that is the prefix of an existing filename. Then you will probably not be so happy...

    Having tried both I greatly prefer hitting a keystroke to add characters.

  • I agree the disks should be at the top. There is no reason for the stupid MSDOS syntax, just /cdrom and /floppy, etc should work. I think many Linux machines are set up this way.

    However "My Documents" is a good indication that MicroSoft is not studying things much either. In fact "My Documents" is ON one of the disks. Removal of the C: drive will cause "My Documents" to become empty, which would be somewhat confusing to the user who can clearly see from that display that they are NOT on the C: drive!

    It should initialize with the *actual* "My Documents" directory already opened and highlighted.

    Unlike either Windows or Linux it would make sense for this directory to be immediately under the physical disk seperations.

    Another idea would be to hide structure that cannot be changed without turning the machine off anyway. So the top level should be something like this:

    /cdrom
    /floppy
    /My Documents
    /Joe's Documents
    /Sally's Documents
    /The web

  • Or even better, they should use the old Unix "file" command to identify the file types. The advantage is that the data itself describes the association, so the association cannot get lost by the user transferring the file from one system to another, possibly through an intermediate form that only copies the data.

    Of course both Windows and Unix make it very slow to get at the data, while fast to get at the less-important "filename". This is all backwards.

    Please don't mess up the file system even more with "attributes", thank you.

  • re: The average end user wants to be able to download program XYZ, double click on it, and have it install

    Bullshit. This is exactly the type of "windows blinders" that people here are complaining about.

    The average user does not want to "install" a program when they double click on it. They want to use the program! In fact the average user would be overjoyed if they could throw the program in the trash can if they don't like it and it is gone.

    It is unbelievable that people complaining about the mysteries of Linux can blindly spout crap like "install" and think they are describing real non-computer-expert's thoughts.

    Of course I should point out that Linux is as bad or worse than Windows with this "install" shit.

  • GTK is LGPL you idiot. You can make closed source apps and charge all the money you want for them.
  • The fact that point-to-type is not the default is one of the major problems with the Gnome and KDE slavish copying of MicroSoft.

    I have never seen a person who learns point-to-type (you can get this on Windows and NT by messing with the resource manager) switch back, and they quickly become frustrated when encouterint click-to-type. Where I work more than half the NT machines have been switched to point-to-type.

    The fact is that point to type is, without question, superior. It is as close as possible to the ideal way to direct keyboard input to several objects using current hardware (the ideal would be to somehow read your mind or track your eye movements to see what thing you are thinking about).

    The fact that this is not the default on all Unix systems (or on new versions of Windows, for that matter) is a good indication of how harmful the engraned user expectations are to advancing the design of machines.

  • When trying to help someone over the phone, it is immesurably easier to instruct them to type mysterious syntax than it is to instruct them to push mysterious buttons. You can spell out the syntax letter by letter. They can also read back the response. Most GUI's, by the time they get to stuff that normally requires a shell, require a great deal of work to determine if the user is even looking at the correct program or dialog box.

    Otherwise there is no reason for the beginning user to see a shell, I agree.

    I still feel that "shell" is a much better word for people to see, and it means as much to a typical user as "terminal emulator" or other such verbage.

  • That's exactly what I was saying, perhaps I was not too clear.

    In early Windows, the left-hand button was a horizontal bar in a box, and a single click dropped down a menu, and a double click closed the window (close was also on this menu). In the upper right were maximize and iconize buttons.

    In Windows 95, I consider the X button as "new", while the old top-left button was still there and working exactly as before, but they changed it's appearance so it no longer has a border and it displays a "tiny icon".

    It is possible that double-click no longer closes the window, I never use that and don't have a Windows machine here to test.

    Actually MicroSoft ought to scrap that button and move the X to the left. I never use the menu. I have also seen normal users accustomed to Windows on a Linux box with KDE set to put the X in the left and they never seem confused, it appears the X is much more important as a visual clue than the button location.

  • Probably right that we don't want stuff stored at the root level other than system structure.

    So I guess my complaint is that "My Documents" is shown by MSoft at the "root", rather than it's actual location. This defeats the whole advantage of forcing the physical disk structure to be part of the hierarchy: if a disk fails or changes it is clear what portion of the tree is affected.

    I think a solution for MSoft would be to have the Explorer and file chooser start up with "My Documents" preselected, but in it's actual place in the hierarchy. It would look exactly as though you navigated down to it in the current one.

    Of course as they have named the directories down there now, it makes the Unix directory naming look like a work of genius... Maybe they could fix it so it is not nested in so many levels. Perhaps C:/People/username (or /home/username ???)

  • One thing I noticed from the comments in the study is that the subjects knew they were taking part in a useability study (duh) and were happy to offer up comments from an imagined new user perspective, not their own.

    "Someone might be overwhelmed by the amount of options." (P7)
    "There are too many features and icons for sombody new." (P7)
    "Some things were accessible that an entry-level user would not want or need, but other things were buried deep." (P11)
    "If someone showed me it would be okay, but if I was a new employee without help, I wouldn't get it." (P6)

    While that is what we all do, it is what the useability experts are paid to figure out, not the test subjects. We all think we know what a new user would do but we don't, we have to watch them.

    While their opinions and insights are great, some nice hard metrics (time to accomplish a task, clicks / keystrokes required, number of false selections, etc) are also great and leave the UI designer with some goals to shoot for. (In typical slashdot fashion I've not finished reading the study in question so that may very well indeed be in the study).

    Chris Cothrun
    Curator of Chaos

  • I believe Slackware still ships it, but I could be wrong.
  • > If you don't know what post-modern rationalism is, do philosophers assume you are dumb?

    Some of them will rip you to shreads for not having a basic understanding of philosophy, yes. People in every field don't understand how the general public can be so stupid as not to understand the basics of their subject.

    > If you don't know Russian, do Russian professors mock you
    Maybe not just Russian, but if you revealed you knew but one language, probably. You've never read people trashing Americans for being monolingugal before?

    > Computer nerds are the last bastion of
    > unadulterated bigotry

    Yeah, whatever. Any discipline are going to have people who think themselves superior for knowing that discipline. English majors don't understand how people can be so poorly read; geography majors can't understand how people don't know where countries are. I complain about many of the customers at Homeland, as do most of my co-workers. Computer nerds are just human, doing what humans do.
  • Where's that blue-screen with that unreadable data I keep seeing when I use Photoshop in Windows all the time.... Hrm. GNOME must be broken.
  • count0 wrote:

    Really, how can you argue with behavior-based experimental data that "this isn't how people behave"? Oh right - with unfounded 3l337 opinion.

    I completely agree with this (see also my post in the "Why Linux will never be mainstream" comments). However, some of the recommended fixes made me sit up for a second.

    As an example, the researchers recommended replacing "Halt" with "Suspend (Halt - stops the processor)"

    IMHO, this is a bad idea. "Suspend" a) already has established meaning in the context of computers (go into power-save or sleep mode), and b) implies stopping something in the middle to return to it later (as in the phrase "suspended animation")

    My personal recommendation would be something like "Shut down" or "Power off" (and if you can detect soft vs. hard power-switch, use an appropriate term in each case, e.g. "Turn off computer" vs. "Shut down the system").

    The experimental data are pretty solid, but there's nothing gospel about the recommendations, except "Consult an experienced technical writer" -- preferably one who wrote docs for absolute novices and got direct feedback on it from them.

  • OTOH, it makes perfect sense to have shutdown and reboot behind a 'foot' symbol.
  • "For example, why does everybody copy the design that the 'window kill' button should be right next to 'maximize'? That's horrible design, put window kill on the left, maximize and minize on the right."

    Windows 3.1 had the minimize and maximize buttons in the upper right hand corner, and the "close box", a big X, in the upper left hand corner. In Windows95, they moved the close box over to the right, where I hit it instead of maximize more times than I care to remember.

    I read somewhere that they did some focus groups or something like that of people who hadn't used any version of MS Windows and half the people said leave it where it was and half the people said it didn't make a difference, but I don't think that they actually put it in front of the people to try out, they just asked it as a theoretical question. Note that none of them specifically said that they wanted it on the right, right next to the maximize and minimize buttons (or boxes).

    I guess moving it to where it made it easier for 3.1 users to screw up without there being any particular benefit for newbies is what MS considers "innovation".

    They also changed the keyboard shortcuts used in 3.1 for creating a new directory to something else in 95 and then changed them again in 98. As far as I can tell, it was change for the sake of change, not change for the sake of improvement.

  • To expand further on your perceptive realization that "...its not stupidity, its simply lack of experience.", sewing machines, electronic keyboards, and other items often have an approximately hand sized object on the end of a cable that's intended to be placed on the floor and operated with the foot. Someone who's unfamiliar with the concept of a mouse and is confronted with one for the first time has only their previous experiences to call upon in trying to figure out how to deal with this new unknown. Perhaps the lack of intelligence was on the part of mouse designers for not making it more obvious what the mouse isn't.
  • "You are not special because you use the Linux operating system."

    Well then, what operating system *will* make me special? :-)

  • Great. Now I'm going to have to go throw some old hardware together and install 3.1 so that I can come back here and be snippy about how I'm right and you're wrong. :-)
  • Users are dumb no matter what the OS.

    Interesting attitude...

    If you don't know what post-modern rationalism is, do philosophers assume you are dumb? Or do they attempt to explain it?

    If you don't know Russian, do Russian professors mock you, or do they try to convince you to take a Russian class?

    Computer nerds are the last bastion of unadulterated bigotry, doing whatever they can to encourage a new digital apartheid and engaging in the worst forms of de-humanization rhetoric.

  • You are arguing from the specific (you) to the general (everybody else). What you find stupid may not, in fact, be stupid at all.

    However, my point still stands: a philosopher or Russian prof would not call those who don't understand their field of expertise stupid. You did.

    While people drive cars everyday, they don't interact with the car beyond a simple interface -- an interface that they took classes to learn and years to perfect. Some secretary who can type 90 words a minute, who's had a computer with a mouse and icons and such foisted on her only sees the thing as an impediment to her abilities. To her, it is simply a fancier typewriter, albeit one that randomly erases work she's done when the app crashes, and has a jillion options she barely understands (and will never use) that are constantly hyped by a ridiculous talking paperclip.

    Just once, I'd like to see a comp-sci nerd, instead of "Users are dumb", say "We don't program for our users, therefore we are poor programmers".

  • I will argue that the original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines are the best and most comprehensive discussion and exploration of how computer user interfaces should work for optimum clarity.

    On a tiny low resolution black and white screen, sure. Displays have changed. The menu at top isn't really necessary to preserve real estate (the "infinite depth" part makes sense tho, i just wish the damn taskbar shared that property). When I supported Macs, one of the most common problems was people choosing the menu for the wrong application because it wasn't immediately obvious which app was in the foreground.

    I also hold up Chooser as an example of a horribly clumsy and painful interface. They didn't get everything right.

    Ultimately I found that teaching people the shortcut keys, no matter how unintuitive they were, made them the most productive. Alt-F4 might not have any mnemonic value, but once you've done it a hundred times, it's wired into your reflexes, and you don't need precise aim to use it either.
    --
  • MS uses the term "shortcut" where everyone else in the world uses "link".

    Except Apple, which uses "Alias"

    Not just those lame "shortcuts" in the filesystem, but IE uses that term for HTML links. This is from usability testing? Yeah, right.

    Because if you drag one to the desktop, it becomes a .LNK file (guess they liked "link" originally). A shortcut.

    As for the rest of your post... grow up already. You can be critical without sounding like you're shouting neener-neener-neener at the treehouse that the other kids are in. At least you don't spell it "M$", I'll give you that.
    --
  • Don't let the simplicity fool you, though: It may be very hard or even impossible to access this interface

    Well sure, it is for me too, but that's because my license was for a different installed base and expired at least 25 years ago :)
    --
  • It is exactly that attitude that makes Gnome unusable to the average PC user.

    Uh huh. That's why the folks in this study said these horrible things about Gnome:

    "The basic feel was fairly intuitive; the menus were where I expected them to be."

    "It was easy to find things, like Windows. I can relate to everything."

    "It is like a cross between Windows and a Mac. It looks like it is designed for everybody."

    Yes, despite all that, the fact that we think it's funny that folks would ask what an icon labelled "terminal emulator" launches, when it launches a terminal emulator, will doom this user interface to only being used by niche companies like IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, etc.

    -
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:13AM (#72015) Homepage Journal

    "Where's Clippy?" (P183)

  • by geojaz (11691) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:15AM (#72016) Homepage
    All interfaces take, well, getting used to in the beginning, this isn't exclusive to computer interfaces. I know that every time I get into one of my friend's vehicles I have to ask, "Hey, how do I turn on the lights? Where is x y or z?".
    That being said interfaces which are reasonable can be adjusted to within a reasonable amount of time. Gnome is certainly something that those of average intelligence with the right amount of time should be able to get down... If they are interested in it and there is some reason to adjust to it.
    So find a reason for people to use Gnome, and they will. (I am not saying Gnome doesn't have a use...)
  • Don't bother -- Check screenshots at
    http://pla-netx.com/linebackn/guis/
    http://www.primenet.com/~jforbes/winhist/windows .h tml

    The 'control menu' (the bar looking thing which is now an icon) had the exact same functionality as today - drop down for window control functions (alt+space or ctrl+space for child windows) or double-click to close the window. There never was an [X] control until Win95.

    (I still double-click that thing most of the time instead of using the close box out of old habits.)

    --
  • "I want to access my email, but when I open up the Access icon my messages aren't there!"
    "Excel? I'd think a serious software package wouldn't be named after chewing gum."

    No, not real quotes, but they could be. *Everything* has context. These Microsoftisms are only in place because that's what these people have been taught (yes, taught) to recognize. Just because something is different doesn't make it "wrong" or "less intuitive" - you have to look past the first impressions and see how the GUI works once the user gets some basic familiarity with it.

    At my place of work, courses on Word and Outlook are de rigeur. Do we really want to base a user-friendly GUI on a system that requires training to use? That's what most of the comments provided seem to indicate ("where's the start button?", "why settings and not control panel?", etc).

  • Then why is MS dumping the Win95 interface in XP?
  • by image (13487) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:36AM (#72022) Homepage
    ...this coming from the people who brought you the Sun WorkShop? :)
  • Sure people hate what they are not familiar with. They don't like change, but some of the end comments by the users does not neccesarily support the argument that a windows like interface is needed. I like P10's comment the most:

    "It is like a cross between Windows and a Mac. It looks like it is designed for everybody."
    People familiar with Windows are able to just use KDE (debateable, but no studies have been performed on it so I will give it to you), but that doesn't mean that they like it. It is what they are familiar with and what they know. So they can be lazy and not have to learn anything new.

    Many users will probably be like that, but there are a lot of users out there that hate the Windows interface but don't even know it because they have never used anything else. I absolutely hated the Mac interface until I used it for several days in a row. Once I became familiar with it it was very nice, I started to dread going back to my windows desktop.

    Basically what I am saying is I want BOTH to thrive, I want both to be put through these kinds of tests repeatedly. People should be able to use what they like, one does not have to win over the other.
  • The only 100% intuitive interface is the nipple...
    --
    *Condense fact from the vapor of nuance*
    25: ten.knilrevlis@wkcuhc
  • by SoftwareJanitor (15983) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:29AM (#72026)
    OpenLook has been effectively dead for a long time. Sun switched to CDE when they ditched OpenLook in favor of Motif, which had basically won the battle at that point.

    As for open sourcing it, Sun did that before they gave up on it... it was kind of their last ditch attempt to outmaneuver Motif. Unfortunately it was too late. Had they done it about a year sooner it might have made a difference.

    I used to use olvwm on Linux back in the 1993 to 1995 time period... I imagine the source code is still out there for it, but I don't think it ships standard with many distros these days, let alone is part of the normal installations.

  • I had a user have a fit because he felt he shouldn't have to click the "New" button in Outlook to compose a new email message. He felt it should be labelled "Send." Your quotes are probably closer to reality than "they could be."

    --
  • My issue is that if you're going to copy somebody, at least copy a GOOD user interface.

    I'm not going to argue that Macs are good computers. (I happen to think they are.) I'm certainly not going to argue that Apple is doing Good Things for the computer industry right now. (Although I think they're driving some interesting trends.)

    I will argue that the original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines are the best and most comprehensive discussion and exploration of how computer user interfaces should work for optimum clarity.

    (yes, that DOES mean that I like the idea of ONE MOUSE BUTTON.)

    *dons asbestos grape smuggler*

    Bring it on. : )
  • For you, and for me, I agree. My PC mouse has five buttons, and my Mac mouse has four buttons. However, you and I are in the VANISHING minority of people who grok computers. For the rest of the people out there (the set includes my grandfather), the introduction to computers, and a large fraction of their daily use, would be made clearer and simpler with a one-button mouse. I'm not saying it's the ideal solution, but it IS the ideal solution for beginning users.

    Advanced users will customize the interface to their liking. Beginners need somebody else to think a lot about what they need, and then provide it to them. Good way to make money.
  • The Chooser IS miserable user interface. They did some things oh so very right, the were totally brain dead for others. : )

    Funny you mention shortcut keys. One thing I like so much about the original Mac shortcut keys, is that they were all designed to be operated with the left hand, so your right could stay on your mouse. That was a very clever bit of thinking on their part.
  • If I wasn't trying to debug some C++ using Workshop right now, that might actually be funny ;)
  • by Squirrel Killer (23450) on Friday July 20, 2001 @01:15PM (#72040) Homepage
    Put a tiny Gnome footprint on the left corner of a taskbar at the top of the screen and the non-techies they had participating in the study probably would have gotten it.
    They might have also gotten it if this wasn't the first time they had seen the GNOME logo. Instead of that nice sunset picture on the login page, they should have the GNOME logo with the word "GNOME" overlaid on it. The login page, if anything, confuses the issue by putting Xiamin's logo in.

    Tying the logo with the name might have helped on the terminal emulator problem too, although they really ought change that to "Command Line Prompt" or something similar.

    -sk

  • If only keyboards had a sensible layout....

    I find it incredibly ironic that we try to learn to type fast on the QWERTY layout, one which was specifically designed to SLOW TYPISTS DOWN. In the typewriter days, keys stuck together if one typed too fast, so a new layout that impeded the typist was devised.

    We should have switched to a sensible layout (one like Fitaly for Palm comes to mind) long long ago. Now, I fear, it is too late to switch...
  • by leei (26366) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:35AM (#72044) Homepage
    In designing systems and user interfaces, it is
    fundamentally important to not confuse two distinct concepts: usability and transparency.

    Usability is directly related to the efficiency of
    performing tasks and the ability to anticipate the
    user interface for new tasks.

    Transparency is the "intuitiveness" of the interface or system. It is primarily a measure of
    how easy it is for a naive user to come into the
    system and get a something done.

    Transparency is intimately related to the experience of the users being examined. In a certain respect, it is a measure of familiarity.
    Unfortunately, you will get high transparency
    scores nowadays if you simply look and act like
    MS Windows.

    Usability is a whole other bag of onions. Some of
    the features of a transparent interface are relevant in assessing usability, but only to a point. While transparency is something critical for new or casual users, it can be almost completely irrelevant to an experienced user. Once a certain level of familiarity is acheived, usable systems are those that make the most common tasks the most efficient to access and provide easy means of aggregating and controlling common
    sequences of tasks. Emacs is an immensely usable
    system that has a very low transparency score.

    It is interesting to note that the Usability Principles in this study seem to be correctly labelled: they *are* related to interface usability. However, the assessment methodology seems to be primarily measuring *transparency*.
    I'd say that this is a basic flaw in the study and
    colors the recommendations highly.

    It would be nice to see someone do a similar study
    but concentrate on the power users and address the
    issues around high performance usability.
  • by count0 (28810) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:46AM (#72045)
    There's a lot of folks saying "but this isn't how people really use Gnome" or "the comments are insipid"

    Unless you've sat down and observed your interface getting tested with a usability professional or two who work with regular folks to see how the application works *in the real folks non-geek world* then you don't know what you're talking about.

    Really, how can you argue with behavior-based experimental data that "this isn't how people behave"? Oh right - with unfounded 3l337 opinion.

    Sure, there are other things we could do to better test usability - like have them spend a week or two with Gnome after this test, then test again to see how much they picked up.

    but until you're doing testing with your own projects, until you appreciate that these are real people in the real world (that same world you think should use Linux as a desktop OS) then you're really missing the point.

    cz

    see www.usability.gov [usability.gov]

    IBM Ease of Use [ibm.com]

    The perennial Jakob Nielsen [useit.com]

    Usability Professionals Association [upassoc.org]

    Webword Usability Blog [webword.com]

  • .. it isn't the _first_ step. Eazel also did some usability-testing with Nautilus (which is an important part of GNOME), and a lot of talk in the development of Nautilus is different from other projects, because the question "but would this be intuitive?" is asked all the time..

    Otherwise I agree totally with what you're saying.
    KDE is currently superior in some fields, but one field GNOME is superiour is usability-testing.
  • However, if we delivered emacs as the desktop environment, linux growth (beyond emacs users) would be doomed.
  • by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:47AM (#72058) Homepage Journal
    There are going to be a lot of posts like, "What lusers! They need to RTFM so that they know that 'terminal emulator' actually means command line prompt!"

    This is not what you should take away from a user interface study. This *is* what the users see when first presented with the program. It really doesn't matter what the programmers/designers of GNOME think. If the user doesn't like it, then he doesn't like it! If he can't understand, then he can't understand.

    A long time tenet of communication is that if there is miscommunication, then it is usually the fault of the communicator who hasn't adequately taken into account the audience. If we as programmers/designers aren't using the interface to *communicate* then it is *we* who are failing to communucate, not the audience who is failing to understand.

    Why do you think that MS has slowly moved to simpler and simpler language? People don't need techo-speak to understand what is going on with the computer. Understanding phrases like "illegal operation" requires a bit of underlying knowledge about why such an analogy is being used. So why use it. Just say, "your computer just crashed, but it's okay. Just press that little button on the front of the computer so it can restart. Have a nice day!".
  • Dude, it was the first and only result of a search on e.themes.org. (I found that out by putting "aphex gnome" into Google, and one of the results mentioned e.themes.org.)

    Here's a screenshot: http://e.themes.org/php/pic.phtml?src=themes/e/sho ts/989191724.jpg [themes.org]

    (I'm not sure why the text of that link has an extra space in it. The href doesn't.)
    --

  • It can be hairy at times - but I get satisfaction that I know what does what, where, and when. It may take me a bit longer to set something up, figure out its dependencies, etc - but in the end, for me, it is worth it.

    To be honest, this update from SuSE 6.3 to 7.2 has been less painful than I thought it would be. I can't say painless - but not the huge bear I was imagining. I was half expecting to end up moving my home area to another partition, then reformating the root, boot and swap partitions, and reinstalling (then moving the home area back), but so far, it has worked out great. Even the stuff I compiled under 6.3 still works (AFAIK - but I am going to recompile it in the end).

    No - Linux definitely doesn't hold your hand for that kind of an update.

    One thing I wonder though, and I hope to be able to try it someday soon - if I can gather the hardware together. I wonder how a "virgin" install of SuSE 7.2 would go - the update went smooth, with the installer and everything being very, very slick - better than what I remember from the Win95 or 98 installer. I just wonder how easy it would be with a fresh machine. It looks like it would be super simple, from what I can gather...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • In Mac OS X, the Apple menu has at once been deprecated (no longer used as a system launcher/customization tool), and brought forward (important system commands stored there).

    The one was 'cause customization was Byzantine (dig around in the System Folder for a Folder to use to customize it), the latter 'cause it's supported by the menu hierarchy they're putting forward
    (System-level stuff -> App -> situational)

    In UI tests, failing to realize the Apple menu was a menu was a common stumbling block for naive users on Macs.

    William

    --
    Lettering Art in Modern Use
  • I know I've already seen links to Jakob Nielson's site in this thread so far, but his Feb 4th Alertbox 'Are Users Stupid?' article really hits exactly what you're saying:

  • by weave (48069) on Friday July 20, 2001 @11:18AM (#72065) Journal
    Where's my C drive?

    That's pretty silly when you think about it. A C: drive, the syntax (C:) etc... It's as weird as anything under Linux. It's just that users have learned this one since the beginning of time, er, MS/DOS epoch, so now they expect the same kind of sillyness.

    We need to corrupt our youth at an early age so when they are exposed to the Windows world, they'll be like "Drive letters? How fucking primitive!" :-)

  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Friday July 20, 2001 @12:50PM (#72067)
    "Who gives a shit?"

    People who are worried that users taught bad habits will actually force them away from being able to write elegant, intuitive systems. Easiest is not always best, etc. (Hardest is not always best either). Seems like GNOME needs a "novice" mode, which like Windows 98 hides all the advanced stuff (like scary black windows my god!), but can be displayed with a click of a button (or by a permanent setting). This way both novices and advanced users can be happy. Maybe every GUI feature can have an experience rating, and the user can set what experience level the GUI should display itself up to.
  • Mozilla, XMMS, Gimp, Compupic, Gphoto, Balsa, Freecell, ...
    -- Pure FTP server [pureftpd.org] - Upgrade your FTP server to something simple and secure.
  • ...and even babies, check my OpenBSD baby [claranet.fr] .

    -- Pure FTP server [pureftpd.org] - Upgrade your FTP server to something simple and secure.
  • by chrysalis (50680) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:40AM (#72070) Homepage
    People familiar with Windows or MacOS will be lost with Gnome, or any new user interface. Because they already know icons, locations, shortcuts, etc. Working on something different needs time.
    My girlfriend never used computers before we met together. And on my computer, there's only OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Linux. I showed her how to log in, browse internet, paint, play music, print photos, etc. Her desktop has icons for main applications.
    And she's not lost. She can use the computer without any help. With Linux, FreeBSD or OpenBSD.
    The last week, she had to work on Word 2000 at her daily job. She was totally lost, found Windows slow and ugly, didn't understand why the word processor had so many complicated buttons and menus, etc.
    So no interface is more intuitive than another. It's just a question of what you are more familiar with.

    -- Pure FTP server [pureftpd.org] - Upgrade your FTP server to something simple and secure.
  • I can't wait for all the idiots to start posting, "But they're going to make it just like Windows!!!"

    While the reality is is that not only are 'regular' users familiar with windows, but MS has spent significant resources studying exactly these issues and they are common even to those who are not familiar with windows. Many of these concepts (which the Linux community has shunned for years trying to avoid being like Windows) are going to have to be embraced (and extended) by the Linux community if they are going to gain any mindshare in the population.

    -Adam

    This sig 80% recycled bits, 20% post user.
  • Back when I was administering a Linux network, the most common questions from users were "Where's my C drive?" and "How do I make all those weird directories dissapear?" (referring to the stuff in /, *after* unsuccessfully trying to delete them). Good thing they didn't have root access...
  • by bwt (68845)
    This is really great work. Bravo.

    It's sometimes painful to watch the average user struggle with things that seem obvious, but this is exactly the kind of feedback that is difficult for a programmer to get.

    For linux to succeed on the desktop, Gnome (or KDE or something equivalent) must do well at meeting the needs and expectations of this kind of user.

    I hope people will see this report as a very valuable insight into what goes throught the minds of ordinary users. I did. Hell, I've even thought the same thing as in some of the comments (I shouldn't have to click on the login box to type my username!)
  • Indeed. The really, really funny thing is that a lot of Windows users can't even use a very slightly modified Windows system.

    For instance, I used a hex editor to change the word on my start menu from "Start" to something useful (i.e. the name of the computer, Astarte).

    Every single person who sat down at it saked, "Where is your start button?" immediately. Even though it was in the exact same place. Nothing else changed except the word on it. I'm not talking about just my mom; I'm talking about engineer types, people who have used other operating systems (primarily SGI Irix) extensively.

    If the people in this survey had clicked a nappy foot, or a K on the top of the screen, or even some "useful text string in the lower left hand corner" every day for 10 years, they would sit down at a MS windows box and say "Where are the programs at?" or, "'Start'? what a stupid name for a computer!"

    Neh
  • Someone forgot to click preview (and Slash won't allow me to resubmit)

    All comments based upon Ximian GNOME 1.4 updates as of 20010722 and KDE 2.1.1 wit the KDElibs 2.1.2 patch applied.

    * Gnome 1.4 can't make icons (launchers) on the desktop unless dragged from Nautilus. One can't modify those properties. Which is bad. GNOME 1.2 and KDE allow this.

    * If a launcher can't find a program, I don't get an error message (must less GNOME having the brains to find the program). KDE allows this.

    * If a launcher runs a program that spits out text, I can't see the text. I think the launcher shuld wait and see if any windows are being launched by the program, and if they don't pop up within a given time limit, show their text output.

    * Nobody selects their apps based on toolkit. My mom doesn't ask for a GTK app. She want's soemthing to read her mail. So can GNOME and KDE start both start using a directory like /usr/share/appmenu ?

    * Indeed, Programs = Applications. Both GNOME and KDE suffer from this bug.

    * Ximian GNOME 1.4, with all updates, is still very slow on an Athlon 900 w/ 384MB RAM. Or, more specifically, Nautilus is bad.

    * Implementation of things (semitransparency) which should be in X into GNOME is a bad technical decision.

    * The GDM bug which allowed entry only when the mouse was over the dialog has been fixed a while ago.

    * If I try something in Control Center, I shouldn't need to commit the changes.

    * Any app that ever tells me I should be root should be shot. If I have permission to su, ask me for the password. Otherwise, tell me I'm not allowed to run the program.

    * Windows XP GUI multiuser capabilities are unfortunately better than GNOME and KDEs. I.e., its possible to go back to the login manager and log in as someone else while the other user keeps their GUI session open.

    Changing to a VT, logging in as another user and running `startx -- :1' is not intuitive

    * I want to change the layout of the window buttons. How do I know what NextStep / macOS / Windows used? I just want the X on the left!

    * Red Carpet is great, and should replace GNORPM as the standard software installation method. For that matter, what exactly is a GNORPM? Let's rename Red Carpet to `Software Installer or `Installer' and put it on the default desktop (or high up in the menus)

    * GNOME and KDE require other apps to be launched to modify their menu structure. Its not achievable via drag and drop.

    * Like the study says, a foot isn't immediately apparent as a launcher. Neither is a giant K. KDE call this button the go button, and should fix the imagery to be more obvious (a `Go' street sine that pulses when people first log in?). GNOME should also do something like this.
  • I'm not sure "shell" would mean any more than "terminal emulator"....

    Agreed. Hijacking of the term shell to mean CLI is simply wrong. A shell is something designed to protect users, or something that covers up what is beneath. Everything is a layer of abstractions at some sense (you use bash? Real men who know what they're doing write to their disks by hand with magnetised needles).

    My shell is KDE. My friends shells are explorer.exe and GNOME

    I think `command prompt' would be an appropriately specific title.
  • You might want to add all the user mountable / writable directories under /media, for removable media.

    Or /mnt and /, and any other nonstandardized directory, which we now use because Rusty Russel decided to ignore everyone else on the FHS and make changes nobody asked for or approved before FHS 2.2s publication.

    Grrr.

  • by Nailer (69468) on Friday July 20, 2001 @03:40PM (#72083)
    All comments based upon Ximian GNOME 1.4 updates as of 20010722 and KDE 2.1.1 wit the KDElibs 2.1.2 patch applied. * Gnome 1.4 can't make icons (launchers) on the desktop unless dragged from Nautilus. One can't modify those properties. Which is bad. GNOME 1.2 and KDE allow this. * If a launcher can't find a program, I don't get an error message (must less GNOME having the brains to find the program). KDE allows this. * If a launcher runs a program that spits out text, I can't see the text. I think the launcher shuld wait and see if any windows are being launched by the program, and if they don't pop up within a given time limit, show their text output. * Nobody selects their apps based on toolkit. My mom doesn't ask for a GTK app. She want's soemthing to read her mail. So can GNOME and KDE start both start using a directory like /usr/share/appmenu ? * Indeed, Programs = Applications. Both GNOME and KDE suffer from this bug. * Ximian GNOME 1.4, with all updates, is still very slow on an Athlon 900 w/ 384MB RAM. Or, more specifically, Nautilus is bad. * Implementation of things (semitransparency) which should be in X into GNOME is a bad technical decision. * The GDM bug which allowed entry only when the mouse was over the dialog has been fixed a while ago. * If I try something in Control Center, I shouldn't need to commit the changes. * Any app that ever tells me I should be root should be shot. If I have permission to su, ask me for the password. Otherwise, tell me I'm not allowed to run the program. * Windows XP GUI multiuser capabilities are unfortunately better than GNOME and KDEs. I.e., its possible to go back to the login manager and log in as someone else while the other user keeps their GUI session open. Changing to a VT, logging in as another user and running `startx -- :1' is not intuitive * I want to change the layout of the window buttons. How do I know what NextStep / macOS / Windows used? I just want the X on the left! * Red Carpet is great, and should replace GNORPM as the standard software installation method. For that matter, what exactly is a GNORPM? Let's rename Red Carpet to `Software Installer or `Installer' and put it on the default desktop (or high up in the menus) * GNOME and KDE require other apps to be launched to modify their menu structure. Its not achievable via drag and drop. * Like the study says, a foot isn't immediately apparent as a launcher. Neither is a giant K. KDE call this button the go button, and should fix the imagery to be more obvious (a `Go' street sine that pulses when people first log in?). GNOME should also do soemthing like this.
  • The issue, IMHO, is not whether GNOME/KDE are useable by Joe Average. I side with those that have trained people to use them and report that, after a brief training period, they do just fine.

    The issue is: people aren't using GNOME/KDE (linux) because THE APPS THEY NEED AREN'T THERE.
  • by MemeRot (80975) on Friday July 20, 2001 @01:27PM (#72089) Homepage Journal
    If the topic is user interface design, nothing important will be said until everyone involved has read 'About Face: the Essentials of User Interface Design' by Alan Cooper (here on amazon [amazon.com]). I've been re-reading it again, and am amazed at the insight and the prescience.

    Fundamental is the difference between good software engineering, and good user interface design. The automobile industry recognizes this gap - most users don't see what engineering is embedded in the engine, drivetrain, etc, but everyone sees the smooth lines of the body. And the second you sit behind the wheel you can tell if the designers intelligently arranged the controls to be easily accessible and clearly read. NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with the engineering of the car - it could have a revolutionary new suspension system, but that's not what you see. The same gap exists between user interface design and software engineering. An elegant use of pointers is invisible to your user. The relative elegance of software engineering techniques means nothing for user interface design.

    Programmers tend to be BAD at interface design - BECAUSE we understand more about how the machines and software work than the average user does. We know the box, so we don't think outside the box.

    The book opens with a great discussion of a user's goals, which are usually NOT to recompile a kernel. Cooper says users want: to not look stupid, to get an adequate amount of work done, not be too bored. These goals are clearly not addressed by error boxes that pop up saying 'library x caused a page fault at .... Ok?'.
  • So what you've said is that they've stayed true to the intent of the test whilst straying from the letter of the test.

    Seems to me that they've managed what was intended which is far mroe important than nitpicking on what they should have called it.

    Just reading about the login procedure makes me shudder and cringe.
  • I've been thinking about this one. One idea I've had is "liberating" some of Jacob Berkman's code from the gnome panel (simply as a matter of laziness, since they already have a "top of the screen widget" and have dealt with all the Xlib root window cruftiness) and then bonobize it, and then hack Gtk at the lowest level possible to communicate with the bonobized menu widget. Of course, you'd have to deal with updating that menu every time you switch to a different application.

    KDE does the global menu bar (from what I've heard) through giving the WM a few clever hints. I really should check out their code when I have time. It's probably a much more sane way of doing it than my previous suggestion.

    Go wolfpack!!!
  • look like Windows"

    Apple spent far more resources than Microsoft developing their UI, and many of the choices they made were because they were shown to be effective in the usability lab. Microsoft made many of their UI decisions not because they were well thought out and well tested, but because they were different from apple and less likely to get them sued (though Apple filed suit anyways). If you try to do the opposite of what is well researched, you'll often end up shooting yourself in the ass. Of course, if you've got a monopoly, it doesn't matter how unusable the damn thing is.

    If the linux community is to succeed in the market, they will have to accept that the people who designed and used what they consider to not be a "real computer" actually know a hell of a lot more than they do in a certain area. If they are smart, they will accept their guidance.
  • Yah. It's called "Bash." It's a little esoteric to use, but it's damn fast. You can extend its functionality with plug in modules called "programs." For instance, for a lot of flexible multi-directory operations there's the "find" program. Hundreds of such "programs" have been written and many of them are probably available on your system already. You should experiment a bit with the fast, flexible bash file manager.
  • I think speed is an area that would improve the useability of the Gnome GUI significantly. This comment refers to the Gnome file manager specifically, but applies to interfaces more generally.

    I have Gnome installed on my Linux box, but more often than not, I use the command line to naviagte through my directories. Why? Because it's faster. The Gnome file manager takes about 3-4 seconds to open a directory on my 350 MHz box. If I'm trying to find a directory 4 layers deep, this adds up to annoyance.

    Does that mean the command line is better? Definitely not! I'm a Mac user and I love Apple's interface. But in Mac OS, opening a folder is instantaneous. I can find a file in Mac OS at least as fast as I can using a command line.

    What it comes down to is this: In designing a user interface, there are tradeoffs in speed vs. functionality. I would like to see more speed, specifically in the Gnome file manager. I'm quite willing to trade some features for more speed, because without the speed, the features aren't useful to me.

    Does anyone know if there is a lightweight, fast file browser out there?

  • GNOME seems to have been slashdotted, and Google doesn't have a cached copy of the article, but they do have a cached copy of The GNOME Usability Project page [google.com], so at least you can read a little about the goals of the project. (After it starts loading, you may have to press "stop" so it doesn't load the images, which will come from GNOME's server.)

    Is there a mirror anywhere else?

  • This is an Urban Legend [ncl.ac.uk].

  • by SpookComix (113948) <spookcomix.gmail@com> on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:30AM (#72113) Homepage Journal
    This is *exactly* what has been lacking in Linux development for a long time. Now, with this data discovered, will developers make changes, or will they bitch about the user pool and continue to develop confusing, over-complex, bloated, non-intuitive interfaces?

    Take this ball and run with it, someone! Don't just bitch about how "Microsoft has conditioned everyone to look for a Control Panel!" Who gives a shit? If your intent is to write software for use by the masses, you'd better be damn sure and write it so that the masses will like it and want to use it!

    --SC

  • by slamb (119285) on Friday July 20, 2001 @12:49PM (#72121) Homepage

    Reading it, the comments seemed to be a lot of things like:

    "This is ridiculous! The start button is a foot? What does a foot have to do with a start button?"

    Read a little further. They gave the participants the very important hint that the foot is the GNOME logo and then:

    "Where everything is; like a start menu like in Windows." (P5, P9)

    "...to go to programs." (P3)
    "...a 'Go' button." (P11)
    "From my previous experience, I'd click there for a list of programs." (P2)

    Their guesses were all dead on. If you didn't know that the footprint was the GNOME logo, you'd be confused, too. Think of all the associations you can make with a footprint. Traveling, history...exactly what they guessed.

    "Whoa? How come the settings are under something called "Settings"?? Where is the control panel?"

    Your paraphrase lost the meaning of the original. Try this instead:

    "'Settings' should be in the control panel...'Settings' is not a program!" (P7)

    "I wouldn't expect 'Settings' or 'System' to be under 'Program'." (P9)

    They were not confused that the settings were in something called "Settings"; they were confused that the settings were in "Programs". Sounds like a pretty valid complaint to me.

    Microsoft has succeeded in making their own screwed up naming conventions the "standard" of computers everywhere.

    No. The users' expectations you've quoted were reasonable and not centric to a Microsoft desktop. You found what you expected to. You completely ignored all the information contrary to it.

  • by locutus074 (137331) on Friday July 20, 2001 @02:47PM (#72147)

    For example, why does everybody copy the design that the 'window kill' button should be right next to 'maximize'? That's horrible design, put window kill on the left, maximize and minize on the right.

    If you choose a different window decoration scheme, you won't necessarily have this problem. For example, I like the "Laptop" window decoration. It puts the close-window button over on the left side, leaving minimize, maximize, stick, and the help button over on the right. (KDE2)

    But you're right. It ought to be different by default.


    --

  • by IronChef (164482) on Friday July 20, 2001 @11:59AM (#72163) Homepage

    I often get the feeling that the Linux crowd wants to convert the masses as opposed to winning them over. There's a big difference between the two.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:27AM (#72172)
    What exactly does GNOME have to do with argonomics? The last time I checked, a desktop environment has no bearing whatsoever on soil or plnat sciences.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:33AM (#72192)
    I've used Gnome a little, and KDE a lot, so I'm probably biased, but despite the fact that <UNDERSTATEMENT> some KDE components are not as well implemented as in Gnome</UNDERSTATEMENT>, I still prefer KDE over Gnome by far. So do most of my colleagues (computer literate or not), so does my mum.

    Why ? because the strength of the KDE look-and-feel is that it's a close copy of Microsoft Windows, and this is good for 2 reasons :

    People who can use Windows are not disoriented by KDE (rah rah, old argument, I know ...)

    Microsoft being all about "first user experience" (read glass and chrome on a desktop anybody can use more or less intuitively), they probably spent a ton of money on the design of the Win95 interface, so why not reuse it ? It's far from perfect, but you can be pretty sure it'll be accessible to the mass thanks to M$ money, and KDE reuses all that R&D for free.

    M$ is not stupid, and they've been reusing the same old clunky Win95 interface for years now. IMO, that's because they know for sure it's what flies with the users. So, I like Gnome, it seems solid and well built, but I'm sorry to say, it'll probably lose the GUI battle because its single biggest flaw is its non-M$ look-and-feel.

  • by Gannoc (210256) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:15AM (#72193)
    Reading it, the comments seemed to be a lot of things like:

    "This is ridiculous! The start button is a foot? What does a foot have to do with a start button?"

    and

    "Whoa? How come the settings are under something called "Settings"?? Where is the control panel?"

    Microsoft has succeeded in making their own screwed up naming conventions the "standard" of computers everywhere.

    In the future, will all UIs have to have start buttons, control panels and taskbars to be considered usable?

  • by hillct (230132) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:21AM (#72199) Homepage Journal
    None of the comments are all that suprising...

    GUI enviroments simply aren't all that intuitive, period. There may be ways to make them more intuitive however this study, while interesting, appears to be more a measure of how similar to MS Windows, Gnome is.

    This is not to say the study is without value. Certainly it is valuable, but agronomic design just isn't at a level where a user can sit down and intuit the functions in such a complex devide as a computer operating system. It just isn't possible. This is not a reflection on Gnome so much as a reflection on the study of agronomics.

    That said, the study was a good read and did make valid points in it's recommendations. It's just important to keep in mind what was actually being analized.

    --CTH
    --
  • by Jhon (241832) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:22AM (#72205) Homepage Journal
    I often come in contact with users who are moving from old unix based terminals to windows based software. Many of these users have absolutely no GUI experience whatsoever.

    There are similar "stumbling" blocks that various users hit when switching platforms -- either from a text-based unix terminal to GUI or from a MAC to WIN32, or whatever.

    For most "work" environments, if the user knows how to "click" an icon to run his software, thats about all they NEED to know -- outside of how to operate their software package. It's silly to expect a 50+ y/o client services secretary from company X with no GUI experience to "master" any windows/mac-ish interface. Their "job" is to be able to navagate their software, launch it and shut it down. Beyond that is really expecting too much.

    -jhon
  • by Eryq (313869) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:44AM (#72226) Homepage
    iarchitect.com [iarchitect.com] has a lot of great tips on GUI design, completely cross-platform.

    A lot of it is common sense, but many X developers would do well to go through the site. Fortunately the GTK pushes developers in the right direction (build the tools, and you can implicitly enforce the standards), but we still have a ways to go for GNOME to be as consistent as, say, Macs were in the late '90s.

    Oh, and M$ bashers will have many opportunities for chuckles here. :-)

  • by Eryq (313869) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:59AM (#72227) Homepage
    I think there was a linux kernel configuration interface that worked much like this, except moreso.... it was reported to be like a text adventure game.

    - Look.
    You see files here. Also, a Trashcan and the Internet

    - Take Internet.
    You can't do that!

    - Drop files.
    Where?

    - Drop files in Trashcan.
    rm -rf /
    Done. 261792K deleted.

    - Ah! Undo! Undo!
    I don't understand that.

    - Get files from backup!
    I see no backup here

    - Get backup from Internet
    It is getting dark. You are eaten by a grue.
    C:\

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