The answer is right in front of you

Users are conditioned through little or poor design, unforgiving code, and a time before usability was a popular term to believe that systems and devices are inherently difficult to use. Show a user a new product and they will be hesitant to use it expecting the experience to be unpleasant. Similarly, provide a user with a simple task and they will search high and low for the answer expecting it to be hidden in some lost corner.

I have witnessed this most recently not with software, but with elevators. Waiting in the lobby of my office building an individual saw the elevator call button turn out. The user looked all around them to five of the six machines to see which had arrived. Not discovering the answer, she reluctantly turned around and sighed in frustration as she realized the available elevator was the unit she was staring at while waiting.

I see this incident as being very similar to the question “where are my glasses?” where a user will wander around searching for something to find that is on top of their head. Users have been presented with so much inept software that we no longer accept a simple solution. If an application doesn’t require 20 steps to load a new document we don’t trust it. That’s not to say we won’t complain about 19 of those steps, but we as users have become conditioned to poor interactions.

Users no longer look in the box labeled batteries for a fresh set of AAs for the flashlight. We expect the linen box to have our answer. It is the role of interaction designers to regain the trust of users in systems that they can be useful, usable, desirable, and polite.

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