We’re all lazy, so just make it easy to use!

Apple please won’t you build me a usable in car entertainment system?!

Usability applies to everything you encounter or use, not just websites.

It’s true that people have very little patience for poor websites, which are anything less than intuitive to use. We all know this as users of websites and it doesn’t take much reflection to know that we all get annoyed when things are harder than they should be, or rather, we don’t even bother to get annoyed; we just leave without a second thought. Which makes it all more surprising that very few companies invest in making their products and websites easy-to-use and when I say easy-to-use, that means that you read instruction manual if you want to, but you shouldn’t have to.

Apple has mastered the development of products that can be figured out without having to read a manual. This means that the user can start enjoying the product immediately and grow their knowledge along the journey, only turning to an instruction manual if they get stuck.

Clarion is an example of the opposite philosophy.  I bought a new stereo system for my VW campervan a short while ago and chose a model made by Clarion which has all the technical functionality I wanted. So it’s got the usual stuff that you’d find in a modern car such as Bluetooth, sat nav, DAB radio, DVD player etc. and a touchscreen control.

Several months in and I still am struggling with some of the settings because not only is it not intuitive, but the instruction manual is written in such a way that it is very hard to understand.  Don’t get me wrong, at a technical level this device does everything that I need and then some, but I have wholeheartedly discouraged any of my friends from ever buying one, simply because it is one of the largest sources of frustration in my life. Alarm bells should’ve rang when I turned to the instruction manual, only to find that it is provided on a compact disk that is not compatible with the DVD player in the stereo system!…..WHAT??? –  which basically means that you have to go into the van with a laptop in order to learn how to use the stereo properly or you do what I did and look at the DVD on a MacBook and decide to print the entire instruction manual off instead and have it clogging up your glove box where you can reference it for when you have some time on your hands.

I find it hard to believe that Clarion or any other company can invest so much money in producing websites, products or anything else for that matter that break the fundamental rule that Steve Krug laid down in his book ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ when all it would’ve taken is a little bit more effort to get it tested with normal human beings who could’ve easily told the technical guys that they needed to make the whole thing simpler.

I’m still toying with the idea of taking it back and asking for my money back. I may yet do so if Apple make my day and build a product that doesn’t require me to have a masters degree in computer science to operate it.

Image credit: Matt Seppings via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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