In the past, a mobile phone that one bought often came with a thick instruction manual, in multiple languages and sometimes heavier than the handset itself.
I almost never read any instruction manual and enjoyed exploring myself. As a result, lots of functionalities I paid for ended up not being used. Nevertheless, I was content about those I did use, because they fit perfectly my expectations.
Usability has improved in leaps and bounds since then. For smart phone users do you still find such booklets in the nicely-designed packages?
That’s right – we are expected to expect things to be intuitive. There are disturbing video clips circulating on the internet describing how little toddlers would get angry about anything less convenient to use than an iPad. Technology is unfortunately leading the public towards not only having higher expectations for usability, but also increasingly incapable of exploring things ourselves. This is a reality that many system designers have to contend with.
A few weeks ago, I purchased a new mobile phone, which boosted “beats audio”, a software module that would enhance listening experience. I did not feel any difference, and only found out a couple of weeks later that the function was by default switched off, and there was no intuitive way to switch it on.
Back in my college days, as a computer engineering student, I would have tinkered the device to find out why certain things did not work the way I wanted it to work. Not anymore, when I became a consumer of smart devices. This is a reality designers and marketers of government systems & programmes are contending with – often, interesting and useful designs are put into the system, but at the last mile they fail to be communicated to the users. Recently, to get parallel perspectives, we spoke with senior decision makers of a few consumer device vendors and most of them have the problem that “we design very good functionalities, but the message just failed to be communicated with the consumers, and as a result the customers would not appreciate the effort we put in and would differentiate our products from others’”.
There are many reasons why products or functionalities do not get used or appreciated. It could be that the usability and ergonomic considerations are not adequate; it could be that the users were not involved thus resist the system; it could also be that the users are not as switched on as they really should be.
A/Prof Lim Thiam Chye, a senior consultant and surgeon of Singapore’s National University Hospital, said at a roundtable convened by FutureGov: “Do not expect users, even senior doctors, to be smart. They are very very dumb.”
Whether that is stress or relief, we have to work with that constraint.
In a visit to Ngee Ann Secondary School yesterday (22 July), FutureGov found students deeply ...
The Infocomm Development Authority and Ministry of Education of Singapore have initiated plans to introduce ...
Ngee Ann Secondary School’s students are on a bid to “change the world” with ...