Let’s talk a little about the usability frustrations we put up with in the name of daylight saving time – and see if we can’t cobble together an object lesson for our web design.
Okay, so in my best Andy Rooney imitation:
Why is it we can put a man on the moon, yet somehow we still don’t have a “magical gadget” that with the press of a button, will set ALL of our clocks to daylight saving time.
I’m talking about the remote that will not only set my BetaMax … I mean VCR … I mean TIVO… and the watch, and my microwave oven and even the clock in my car parked outside!
Did I just hear an amen?! Yeah, I thought so … and well we should. After all, here’s a list of the clocks I had to reset manually – each employing its own rand of a ‘uniquely creative’ set of time-setting interface operations:
- the stove
- the microwave oven
- the upstairs weather warning clock/radio
- the downstairs weather warning clock/radio
- the clock on my portable flashlight/weather warning clock radio
- my digital camera
- my digital movie camera
- my wife’s digital camera
- my daughter’s digital camera
- my pickem-up truck
- my wife’s car
- a small number of my daughter’s toys
I think that’s it … well not including the batteries on all 6 or 7 smoke alarms.
So what usability can we take away from all this minute-setting of madness? How about doing away with what Frank da Cruz referred to in my networking class back in 1986 as “a wide variety of standards.”
Think about it, the method for setting the time on each of the above devices varied, some greatly from the others, some not-so-much. Either way, if you’re not going to give me a “magical gadget” then at least give me a consistent interface to all the above!
And I think the same applies to our software. From page to page of our programs, are we asking our users to do similar things employing “a wide variety of standards?” If so, imagine the learning curves and barriers to conversion we place in front of them.
My point? Go through your entire site and figure out what’s the same and almost-the-same. Then pick a convenient way to do it – and stick with it – even if some better jQuery gizmo comes out next week.
Your users will thank you.