The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.


So, if you dont know how to turn on "the damn phone", could it be that you didnt read the manual?

In my experience thats what technical people like to do. They're all going like "Hey, I'm quite good with gadgets! You dont have to tell me how to operate a frikkin cellphone!".

Ofcourse, exploring all the options of your cellphone "by hand" is one aspect of the fun of having a new phone. But you must ask yourself if you can actually blame the design for not knowing how to turn it on.
Cellphones are loaded with nifty stuff these days, because, appearently, the majority of the public demands it. So designers are confronted with the problem of implementing all those features (and a means to be able to operate those features) and still keep the product "clean" and easy to use.

Wouldnt you say it is then valid to use the manual as a means to explain the design?
Richard Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
Of course you can blame the design.
That's one important part of good design - to make easy access to basic features without having to read a manual.

Friday, February 03, 2006
I tend to disagree.
Since when does design make the manual of a product obsolete? Its not only the design that makes something easy to use, it depends on the experience of the user as well.
Richard Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
"Since when does design make the manual of a product obsolete?"

Since April 26, 2000?
Ian Schreiber Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
I never said ONLY the design makes something easy to use.
I never said the manual was obsolete. I meant that the manual is for all that nifty stuff that can't be considered to be a part of the user's experience.
Basic functions like power buttons should work as people expect them to do - and that's the challenge.

Friday, February 03, 2006
It doesnt state that its a fact :)
The thing is, sometimes a designer has to walk off the beaten path in order to implement everything that is expected from him/her. I'm not saying design shouldnt be intuitive, just that if a user is not able to work out a specific feature, it's not necessarily a flaw in the design. It could be their experience, or the fact that the current product can in no possible way provide means to create a more intuitive design.
Richard Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
Well, as far as the powerbutton is concerned, I agree that basics should be just that, basics. So indeed their functions should be ituitive. But, does that also imply that designers can never implement alternative solutions, even for basics?

Is it the fact that "the red button of your phone" is in this case the powerswitch (which seems odd to me)? Or is it the way it works which is faulty?

If its the former, all you had to do is to look in the manual, see that its that particular button that powers on the phone, and from then on it would be normal for you to use that button, wouldnt it?
Richard Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
The people who really NEED The manual will never read it.
And those who REALLY NEED instructions won't be helped by them.

It's like instructions on matches:

If NEED instructions on how to use matches, instructions ain't gonna help 'ya.

FACE IT :few users will read the manual.

"Should read" implies a moral imperitive (an obligation to read it). But guess what? You don't get to dictate what your customers will do unless you're a monopoly.

There are exceptions: very sophisticated software might need a manual. But making the software self-explanatory is going to get you more sales and save more customer support time in the end.

And which would you rather do?
Write manuals which will be read by very few? or make a better UI which will be seen by EVERY customer?
Mr. Analogy {Shrinkwrap µISV} Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
Why should I RTFM to use a freaking phone unless its designer was an incompetant imbecile? Besides, when the design for a phone is so bad that it is a challenge even to answer the damn thing, the manual is unlikely to be written in a way that is helpful. For example - pages 1-40 are how to register your new phone. Pages 41-60 are directions for changing the battery. Appendix D (pages 811-812) has the web features.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
It's not a phone, but I recently purchased a Creative Labs Nano audio player for my wife.  There was absolutely nothing in the manual on how to use it.  No explanation of how to use the menus (or even that they existed), no discussion of the multi-function control button (or that it had multiple functions), nothing.  All it did was explain how to install the connection software that ran on the PC.
Don Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
Skinner box?
Jon Dinlea
Sunday, February 05, 2006
You only know how to use matches because someone told you how to use them. That actually counts as a manual.

I dont think its really fair to compare something as "complex" as tomorrow's cellpohne to a box of matches. The former has a lot more options than just to make a telephone call nowadays.

If you could use a matchbox to remotely open you cardoors and switch channels on your television, a manual maybe wouldnt be such a bad idea.
Richard Send private email
Monday, February 06, 2006
Besides, I _would_ expect the manual to explain how to turn something on. And I dont mean that in a sexual way.
Richard Send private email
Thursday, February 09, 2006

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz