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View Full Version : Mac OS vs. Windows usability [split]


voodoofish
May 22, 2004, 02:39 AM
Discussion split from Mac OS X Security Update: 5-24-2004 (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=72702) thread
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They are...its called SP1...did you install that before applying the other patches. It takes the 34 or so odd patches and drops it to aprox 17 that need to be installed post SP1. Still a crapload but manageable.

Yeah, but they still fill half of your Add/Remove programmes list thingy with all the hotfixes. Plus sometimes when I installed a hotfix it would randomly stop some feature of the computer working, and that roll-back thingy in Windows (I've forgotten what it's called) wouldn't even work and I had to re-install Windows.

I was also doing something on a Windows computer yesterday and realised how illogical it all is - for example, why are display settings not in the control pannel like all the other settings? Hmm maybe they are, i've never really looked for them there, but I've always just changed them from the desktop like everyone else I know. It's kinda confusing though, whenever I want to change a setting in Windows, I always have to stop and think where to do it (like network options are under My Network Neighbourhood). Give me Mac OS anyday....

dguisinger
May 22, 2004, 08:20 PM
Yeah, but they still fill half of your Add/Remove programmes list thingy with all the hotfixes. Plus sometimes when I installed a hotfix it would randomly stop some feature of the computer working, and that roll-back thingy in Windows (I've forgotten what it's called) wouldn't even work and I had to re-install Windows.

I was also doing something on a Windows computer yesterday and realised how illogical it all is - for example, why are display settings not in the control pannel like all the other settings? Hmm maybe they are, i've never really looked for them there, but I've always just changed them from the desktop like everyone else I know. It's kinda confusing though, whenever I want to change a setting in Windows, I always have to stop and think where to do it (like network options are under My Network Neighbourhood). Give me Mac OS anyday....

You say you always change display settings under the desktop and network settings from network neighborhood, then complain that they aren't in the control panel. Have you ever looked in the Windows control panel? Umm...... then Displays control panel applet is pretty self explanitory to what it does. And Networking in the control panel takes you directly to your Network Properties window, which lists your network interfaces, which is completely logical, and is also accessable by right clicking on Network Neighborhood. Hell, even Printers have been a link to another shell interface from the Control Panel since 95. Why? Because it happens to work well, and most people can figure it out...not to mention it can be accessed from the shell in multiple places making it easy for people to use it the way it makes sense most to them.

Why do you right click on the desktop? Maybe because it makes sense that there are desktop properties? I'm trying to remember what OS X does...I beleive it does the same thing, does it not (I am not on my iMac right now). Then why do you criticize MS for having display properties on the desktop, but not Apple. Why is it so hard for you to open the control panel and actually look to see if there is a Displays icon, which there has been since 1995 and is fairly obvious..... yet you go complaining that there isn't.

The only thing different about the two items you listed is on Windows the Network Properties use a different window for each network adapter, whereas on the Mac they are combined into 1. And I personally like the multiple windows, it makes it easier to duplicate settings from one to another if needed by being able to view both at the same time.

*end of rant*

JFreak
May 23, 2004, 03:48 AM
Why do you right click on the desktop? Maybe because it makes sense that there are desktop properties? I'm trying to remember what OS X does...I beleive it does the same thing, does it not (I am not on my iMac right now). Then why do you criticize MS for having display properties on the desktop, but not Apple.

one can change desktio background by control-clicking osx desktop. that makes perfect sence, since you are clicking on a desktop and not the display. it is just unintuitive (though it is easier than going to control panel) that windows lets you change display properties when doing the same, but nobody actually cares because they have got used to it without thinking if it's good or not.

from usability point of view things should be accessible from one route only, and that should be the control panel / system preferences. every other way breaks usability theorems and should be used sparingly, and when used, the shortcuts should be few and really intuitive, and they should above all be needed often.

so in my opinion (and usability point of view) apple has done better than microsoft. when everything is in system prefs and shortcuts are few, people associate the system prefs as the location for changing system prefs. microsoft has done too much shortcuts alienating its users from the control panel making it difficult to remember where the shortcuts are and actually making people fear touching the control panel. you can only imagine how many windows people call me to change settings for them because they are afraid to do it themselves, and that's an indicator of bad usability decisions by microsoft. in comparison, apple people just change their system prefs and not think about it being difficult.

back to the point, apple has thought that when user clicks on desktop, he wants to make adjustments to the desktop. that's just right. there's no reason to put in a shortcut for adjusting display to the desktop, because if one changes display settings regularily, he puts the display icon to the menu bar.

Doctor Q
May 23, 2004, 11:22 AM
from usability point of view things should be accessible from one route only, and that should be the control panel / system preferences. every other way breaks usability theorems and should be used sparingly, and when used, the shortcuts should be few and really intuitive, and they should above all be needed often.Whose theorems are these "usability theorems"? I certainly don't agree with them. Think of how many ways you can open a document:

double-click the document
select the document and press Command-O
select the document and pick File -> Open
select the document and pick File -> Open With
control-click the document and pick Open
control-click the document and pick Open With
drag the document to an application's icon in the Finder
drag the document to an application's alias
drag the document to an application in the Dock
open an application, choose File -> Open, and navigate to the document
select the document from Apple -> Recent Items
type a command in Terminal to open the document
access the document through a web browser
do any of the above with an alias of the document
...and no doubt many more...

Are you saying that only one of these methods should be available?

JFreak
May 23, 2004, 11:40 AM
Whose theorems are these "usability theorems"? I certainly don't agree with them. Think of how many ways you can open a document:

double-click the document
select the document and press Command-O
select the document and pick File -> Open
select the document and pick File -> Open With
control-click the document and pick Open
control-click the document and pick Open With
drag the document to an application's icon in the Finder
drag the document to an application's alias
drag the document to an application in the Dock
open an application, choose File -> Open, and navigate to the document
select the document from Apple -> Recent Items
type a command in Terminal to open the document
access the document through a web browser
do any of the above with an alias of the document
...and no doubt many more...

Are you saying that only one of these methods should be available?

no.

the document is where it is, and you can open it by clicking on it or dragging it to the app you wish it to open into, and that's ok because you're focusing into the document you are handling.

system prefs on the other hand, well, they are where they are and you shouldn't be able to access any single pref pane in any other way than through the system preferences. making a shortcut (to single pref pane) breaks the usability in a way that it gives user more than one way to connect into such a pref pane.

it is far more intuitive to get the user used to going to "system preferences" if one wants to change system settings than implementing a plehtora of shortcuts to incividual preference panes. the way windows does it just alienates the user from the control panel, and in comparison, the way osx does it encourages the user to change the settings by himself.

apple has done its homework regarding usability. microsoft hasn't.

Rower_CPU
May 23, 2004, 11:47 AM
JFreak-

I think you're pointing to the key difference between having a single application that controls various settings (OS X's System Preferences) and having a collection of widgets in a Folder that control various settings (Windows Control Panel).

Each approach has strengths and weaknesses, but I think you're overstating the usability issue. Like Dr. Q asked, what "theorems" are you following and where to they come from?

JFreak
May 23, 2004, 12:47 PM
i'm sorry but i can only discuss usability in finnish as i study computer technology in tampere university of techology and have not yet studied the resources in english. but the point is, that usability researchers agree about the fact that to keep things simple everything has to be accessed from only one location. multiple access routes to single resource only complicate things and therefore shortcuts must be avoided, if there are not any points strong enough to justify breaking that rule.

from the usability point of view, i cannot think of anything that is better implemented in windows than in mac osx.

Rower_CPU
May 23, 2004, 02:34 PM
i'm sorry but i can only discuss usability in finnish as i study computer technology in tampere university of techology and have not yet studied the resources in english. but the point is, that usability researchers agree about the fact that to keep things simple everything has to be accessed from only one location. multiple access routes to single resource only complicate things and therefore shortcuts must be avoided, if there are not any points strong enough to justify breaking that rule.

from the usability point of view, i cannot think of anything that is better implemented in windows than in mac osx.

Can you even point to usability experts who have said it in English? I was hoping you'd say "Jakob Nielsen said...", or "Donald Norman suggests..." or even "Alan Cooper theorizes..." and we could go from there.

I study usability as a part of my graduate studies and as a personal interest - stating absolutely that multiple access routes to a resource is a "bad thing" is ridiculous since it leaves no room for intermediate/advanced users to increase their productivity. By your logic, keyboard shortcuts should never be implemented, since anything past mouse-driven menu access to a command complicates things too much.

This is getting off-topic, but I'd love to see the studies that support what you're saying, and which researchers are saying them. I'll split this discussion into a new thread, soon.

ryanw
May 23, 2004, 05:32 PM
no.

the document is where it is, and you can open it by clicking on it or dragging it to the app you wish it to open into, and that's ok because you're focusing into the document you are handling.

system prefs on the other hand, well, they are where they are and you shouldn't be able to access any single pref pane in any other way than through the system preferences. making a shortcut (to single pref pane) breaks the usability in a way that it gives user more than one way to connect into such a pref pane.

it is far more intuitive to get the user used to going to "system preferences" if one wants to change system settings than implementing a plehtora of shortcuts to incividual preference panes. the way windows does it just alienates the user from the control panel, and in comparison, the way osx does it encourages the user to change the settings by himself.

apple has done its homework regarding usability. microsoft hasn't.

I'm a Mac OSX Fan. I dislike windows very much. But I've always wondered why it has taken Apple until OSX 10.3 to incorporated Printer Settings into the "System Preferences". Until 10.3 it was in /Applications/Utilties/PrinterAdmin (Or something like that). Talk about obviscated to the normal user. Another thing is it seems like LOTS of OSX apps install using some sort of PACKAGE BUNDLE format that OSX uses. BUT, why is there no GUI to uninstall these packages that were 'easily installed'? Those are my two qwerks with OSX (now down to ONE) that I think should be resolved fairly quickly.

wdlove
May 23, 2004, 05:34 PM
I happen to like the availability to access an item by different routes.

We shouldn't complain about the Security update, after all it's free! :)

jeffbistrong
May 23, 2004, 05:49 PM
I'm a Mac OSX Fan. I dislike windows very much. But I've always wondered why it has taken Apple until OSX 10.3 to incorporated Printer Settings into the "System Preferences". Until 10.3 it was in /Applications/Utilties/PrinterAdmin (Or something like that). Talk about obviscated to the normal user. Another thing is it seems like LOTS of OSX apps install using some sort of PACKAGE BUNDLE format that OSX uses. BUT, why is there no GUI to uninstall these packages that were 'easily installed'? Those are my two qwerks with OSX (now down to ONE) that I think should be resolved fairly quickly.


Can't you just drag the appication item or folder to the trash to uninstall it? Isnt that pretty simple?

ryanw
May 23, 2004, 07:59 PM
Can't you just drag the appication item or folder to the trash to uninstall it? Isnt that pretty simple?

Nice try, but most apps are installing stuff in /Library/Application Support or in /Library/StartupItems and things. Plus I know when you install a package it puts files in your /Library folder that tell the system the package is installed. In theory if you just drag an application from /Applications to the trash you'll still the updates for that application from the Update Software option like for iDVD or something. I haven't tried it, but I would imagine that would be true.

kcmac
May 23, 2004, 11:02 PM
Nice try, but most apps are installing stuff in /Library/Application Support or in /Library/StartupItems and things. Plus I know when you install a package it puts files in your /Library folder that tell the system the package is installed. In theory if you just drag an application from /Applications to the trash you'll still the updates for that application from the Update Software option like for iDVD or something. I haven't tried it, but I would imagine that would be true.

I have thrown numerous apps away to the trash often leaving behind items in preferences or Application Support. Never causes any problems for me.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 12:44 AM
Another thing is it seems like LOTS of OSX apps install using some sort of PACKAGE BUNDLE format that OSX uses. BUT, why is there no GUI to uninstall these packages that were 'easily installed'?

there is a gui for uninstalling these packages, and it's called "the finder". you can just simply drag the app to the trash can and there you go. do you want it simpler? :)

Doctor Q
May 24, 2004, 12:51 AM
The trouble with dragging an Application to the trash to delete it is that people don't guess this metaphor. It's too obvious! That's why the question keeps coming up.

Deleting/uninstalling an application is a rare activity compared to installing, so it's not a major issue. But another choice would have been to let you control-click an application's main program or folder in the Application folder and select Delete Application or Uninstall. Then again, if that meant the same as Move to Trash, why have two control-click functions for the same thing?

I guess I can see the problem but not solve it.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 12:58 AM
Can you even point to usability experts?

well, now that you put it this way... ;)

it is nielsen who i respect the most, and it is he who believes in minimalist navigation system, and he thinks that everything shouldn't be linked to everything else. i'm not able to give you straight quote, but if you study this you probably know that this is his opinion.

(nielsen is to my knowledge more focused on web design than software, so i guess you won't take him as an answer; however, the principles should remain the same.)

johnnyjibbs
May 24, 2004, 03:57 AM
If I delete an app, I drag the app to the trash, then go to the Finder and type in the name of the app so that it lists things in the library, etc such as preference files, receipts, shortcuts and any other little files it may have installed. Then I delete them, along with any documents it may have created and I've completely removed it from my system. If you just drag the app to the trash, more often than not you will end up with little files such as unused preference files that will be cloggin up the system but never getting used.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 04:11 AM
If you just drag the app to the trash, more often than not you will end up with little files such as unused preference files that will be cloggin up the system but never getting used.

very true, but also not very harmful - preference files are tiny. compared to windows' registry problem, this is nothing; it only takes a yearly os upgrade to get rid of those :)

no seriously, if the library gets bloated, the easiest way out is to make a new fresh user and delete the old one altogether.

gekko513
May 24, 2004, 05:17 AM
very true, but also not very harmful - preference files are tiny. compared to windows' registry problem, this is nothing; it only takes a yearly os upgrade to get rid of those :)

no seriously, if the library gets bloated, the easiest way out is to make a new fresh user and delete the old one altogether.
And that's not the worst of it. Here's from an article on theregister.co.uk: "However, install nearly any program in Windows, and chances are it will (for example) place a different .DLL file in the Windows/System directory or even replace existing ones with its own version in what system administrators of earlier Windows versions grudgingly called "DLL Hell." Want to remove the application? You’ve got two choices: completely remove the application (going beyond the software uninstaller to manually remove things like a power user) and risk breaking Windows or remove the application (via the software uninstaller) and let whatever it added or modified in Windows/System to remain, thus presenting you a newly-but-unofficially patched version of your operating system that may cause problems down the road."

Skiniftz
May 24, 2004, 05:56 AM
"However, install nearly any program in Windows, and chances are it will (for example) place a different .DLL file in the Windows/System directory or even replace existing ones with its own version in what system administrators of earlier Windows versions grudgingly called "DLL Hell." I]
Addressed by Windows File Protection. XP will sense if a DLL has been overwritten then replace it from a backup copy automatically, logging an event that it has done so.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 07:34 AM
Addressed by Windows File Protection. XP will sense if a DLL has been overwritten then replace it from a backup copy automatically, logging an event that it has done so.

except if the system backup has been disabled, as it admins in many companies do. and even with the feature on, having "windows" and "protection" in the same sentence makes me laugh ;)

just visit www.microsoft.com web site - the two most notable things are "get smart about security" and "protect your pc". they even advertise that they have no clue.

Skiniftz
May 24, 2004, 07:51 AM
except if the system backup has been disabled, as it admins in many companies do. and even with the feature on, having "windows" and "protection" in the same sentence makes me laugh ;)
..not the point. It protects by DEFAULT. If you want to go disabling parts of the system that protect you against problems then that's your lookout.

just visit www.microsoft.com web site - the two most notable things are "get smart about security" and "protect your pc". they even advertise that they have no clue.
Do you actually know anything about Windows or are you another jump on the bandwagon type who has never actually used it but they heard about a Windows 95 box that an auntie had once that crashed?

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 08:09 AM
Do you actually know anything about Windows?

i have to work with them on a daily basis. have had to since windows 2.0 and i fear our company will adopt to longhorn as soon as possible, hopefully not before 2010.

in my opinion, the best windows ever was the NT4, but it's not even supported anymore so we have to use xp:s. it takes a lot of tweaking to strip all unnecessary bloat away from them, but what can you do...

Skiniftz
May 24, 2004, 08:37 AM
i have to work with them on a daily basis. have had to since windows 2.0 and i fear our company will adopt to longhorn as soon as possible, hopefully not before 2010.

in my opinion, the best windows ever was the NT4, but it's not even supported anymore so we have to use xp:s. it takes a lot of tweaking to strip all unnecessary bloat away from them, but what can you do...
If you look into Group Policy Objects in Active Directory you can set policies to control almost every aspect of XP, including what GUI it uses to if system restore is used etc.

It's really not difficult to manage en masse. You can even administratively set software updates. Apple have a similar thing in OSX Server where you can manage the prefs for your OSX clients.

Rower_CPU
May 24, 2004, 11:12 AM
well, now that you put it this way... ;)

it is nielsen who i respect the most, and it is he who believes in minimalist navigation system, and he thinks that everything shouldn't be linked to everything else. i'm not able to give you straight quote, but if you study this you probably know that this is his opinion.

(nielsen is to my knowledge more focused on web design than software, so i guess you won't take him as an answer; however, the principles should remain the same.)

Nielsen has been rapidly falling out of favor for his overly simplistic, black and white usability "suggestions" that don't take into account the breadth of use situations and user needs. This falls right in line with your all-or-nothing view of usability.

Alan Cooper has some very interesting things to say about software usability. You might want to check out About Face 2.0 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0764526413/qid=1085415112/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-5683154-1927169?v=glance&s=books).

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 11:44 AM
there's no such thing as overly simplistic - it's usually a very big effort that is needed to make things simple, as it is far more easier to just make things than to make things right. so software engineers continue to make things and there's always a need for someone that says which operations are unnecessary.

simplicity adds productivity. this is where all usability experts agree, to my knowledge.

in this system prefs example i defend my point about it being a lot faster to access one centralized system from one way only (the apple menu), because when it is used regularily (at least more often than any single shorcut), there is a clear memory path for even the not-so-power users - compared to a shortcut here and there, when user tends to learn shortcuts and their functions instead of associating the shortcut into where it points.

to prove my point, let's take my father for example. when he had windows laptop, he called me every week just to ask how he can change this and that setting, and no matter how hard i tried, he never knew the concept of control panel, and was afraid of using it. he however had no trouble using the display control panel because he wasn't using the control panel in his mind, but rather just "display settings changer widget". now that he has an ibook, he never calls me about these things and uses system prefs boldly. he can now see that there's a collection of system settings that he can change without making things blow.

or my father-in-law who constantly asks my wife where his documents are, because he cannot associate the (windows) file system at all - he thinks that when he saves pictures from digital camera to a location called "my documents", it must be a different place than where he drags all pictures he has saved from the net - to "my documents" in the desktop. he cannot learn that the folder in the desktop is a shortcut to an actual folder somewhere else. interestingly enough, when his pc broke and we loaned him our spare imac, he instantly figured where he should look for his files. this is real. simplicity. i cannot say it loud enough.

Rower_CPU
May 24, 2004, 11:50 AM
there's no such thing as overly simplistic - it's usually a very big effort that is needed to make things simple, as it is far more easier to just make things than to make things right. so software engineers continue to make things and there's always a need for someone that says which operations are unnecessary.

simplicity adds productivity. this is where all usability experts agree, to my knowledge.

in this system prefs example i defend my point about it being a lot faster to access one centralized system from one way only (the apple menu), because when it is used regularily (at least more often than any single shorcut), there is a clear memory path for even the not-so-power users - compared to a shortcut here and there, when user tends to learn shortcuts and their functions instead of associating the shortcut into where it points.

to prove my point, let's take my father for example. when he had windows laptop, he called me every week just to ask how he can change this and that setting, and no matter how hard i tried, he never knew the concept of control panel, and was afraid of using it. he however had no trouble using the display control panel because he wasn't using the control panel in his mind, but rather just "display settings changer widget". now that he has an ibook, he never calls me about these things and uses system prefs boldly. he can now see that there's a collection of system settings that he can change without making things blow.

or my father-in-law who constantly asks my wife where his documents are, because he cannot associate the (windows) file system at all - he thinks that when he saves pictures from digital camera to a location called "my documents", it must be a different place than where he drags all pictures he has saved from the net - to "my documents" in the desktop. he cannot learn that the folder in the desktop is a shortcut to an actual folder somewhere else. interestingly enough, when his pc broke and we loaned him our spare imac, he instantly figured where he should look for his files. this is real. simplicity. i cannot say it loud enough.

I'm not arguing that simplicity in software design is a bad thing - I'm saying that your and Nielsen's arguments are overly simplistic.

As I said before, by your logic, we should remove keyboard shortcuts from software, since we already have access to the "resources" via menus and mouse input.

Simplicity in design is one way to look at the goal of usability. Another is transparency - beginning users have the support they need and advanced users can easily learn how to perform more efficiently with the program getting out of the way.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 12:02 PM
As I said before, by your logic, we should remove keyboard shortcuts from software, since we already have access to the "resources" via menus and mouse input.

actually, no. if for example an app has a "save" function, there is no difference if i access that function by clicking the menu with a mouse or pressing two buttons via the keyboard. or saying a magic word "save" through a microphone, or pressing my index finger to a special device that is programmed to execute the save command each time it reads a correct fingerprint. it's all the same.

now if the app would pop up a window every five minutes asking if i wish to save already, that would be another way to access that function - meaning, a software-driven (pull) method versus a user-driven (push) method.

jxyama
May 24, 2004, 12:09 PM
..not the point. It protects by DEFAULT. If you want to go disabling parts of the system that protect you against problems then that's your lookout.

not the point either. if you need what can best be described as a "kluge" (that can be disabled, no less!) to prevent the OS from screweing itself up from everyday activity like installing apps, then there is a problem with the OS design.

longhorn hopefully will address this issue.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 12:11 PM
longhorn hopefully will address this issue.

yes, it will not allow user to install apps that are not watermarked by microsoft ;) ok, end of sarcasm...

Rower_CPU
May 24, 2004, 12:35 PM
actually, no. if for example an app has a "save" function, there is no difference if i access that function by clicking the menu with a mouse or pressing two buttons via the keyboard. or saying a magic word "save" through a microphone, or pressing my index finger to a special device that is programmed to execute the save command each time it reads a correct fingerprint. it's all the same.

now if the app would pop up a window every five minutes asking if i wish to save already, that would be another way to access that function - meaning, a software-driven (pull) method versus a user-driven (push) method.

So what's the difference between the "save" function being accessed multiple ways and your problem with the Display settings in Windows being accessed multiple ways? I'm not seeing the distinction.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 01:06 PM
So what's the difference between the "save" function being accessed multiple ways and your problem with the Display settings in Windows being accessed multiple ways? I'm not seeing the distinction.

the difference is that if save function is accessed via the keyboard or via mouse or via microphone or via fingerprint reader, it is one function in one place and it is up to user what input device he wishes to use. the same thing would be to open the system prefs via the keyboard shortcut (is there any?) or via mouse or via microphone or via some other specialized device that is made only for the purpose of opening the system prefs.

but...

if you put a shortcut into the system prefs, then you are not anymore accessing the system prefs from one LOCATION but two instead, and that's the difference. in windows side one clear example would be the "my documents" folder that usually has a shortcut on the desktop. many users tend to think these are two different locations although the desktop one is only a shortcut to the real folder.

the difference should be clear; different input methods versus different locations. the former is ok, and it is up to os what input methods it supports and up to user which of the supported he wishes to use. but different locations just confuse user and alienates him from what is original.

btw. the dock also breaks this simplicity rule. to add confusion i have a shortcut to "applications" folder placed into the dock, in addition to few apps (8 to be exact, of which at least four are always running), so in my config i can access few applications from three different locations. basically, that's breaking the rules.

Rower_CPU
May 24, 2004, 01:13 PM
the difference is that if save function is accessed via the keyboard or via mouse or via microphone or via fingerprint reader, it is one function in one place and it is up to user what input device he wishes to use. the same thing would be to open the system prefs via the keyboard shortcut (is there any?) or via mouse or via microphone or via some other specialized device that is made only for the purpose of opening the system prefs.

but...

if you put a shortcut into the system prefs, then you are not anymore accessing the system prefs from one LOCATION but two instead, and that's the difference. in windows side one clear example would be the "my documents" folder that usually has a shortcut on the desktop. many users tend to think these are two different locations although the desktop one is only a shortcut to the real folder.

the difference should be clear; different input methods versus different locations. the former is ok, and it is up to os what input methods it supports and up to user which of the supported he wishes to use. but different locations just confuse user and alienates him from what is original.

btw. the dock also breaks this simplicity rule. to add confusion i have a shortcut to "applications" folder placed into the dock, in addition to few apps (8 to be exact, of which at least four are always running), so in my config i can access few applications from three different locations. basically, that's breaking the rules.

Sorry, but that's a completely arbitrary distinction. To the user, there is little difference between accessing a function via multiple means in a program and accessing folders/settings/etc. via multiple paths.

Novice users can access things via the typical/slow route and power users learn and use shortcuts - that is good usability.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 01:40 PM
Sorry, but that's a completely arbitrary distinction.

that arbotrary distinction is very real among the older people. we younger users know that the "my computer" folder is located on the hard drive and the icon on the desktop is only a shortcut to it. but for the older people, these are two different things. they see a "my documents" and "my computer" on the desktop and see them as two separate entities - and therefore when they open "my computer" and see the "my documents" in there, they don't connect it to the shortcut icon on the desktop. sad but true, that's how the human mind operates.

it's different thing to be able to access something from two locations than being able to access it via multiple devices (mouse, keyboard, voice, biometrics...) as i stated.

Rower_CPU
May 24, 2004, 01:48 PM
that arbotrary distinction is very real among the older people. we younger users know that the "my computer" folder is located on the hard drive and the icon on the desktop is only a shortcut to it. but for the older people, these are two different things. they see a "my documents" and "my computer" on the desktop and see them as two separate entities - and therefore when they open "my computer" and see the "my documents" in there, they don't connect it to the shortcut icon on the desktop. sad but true, that's how the human mind operates.

it's different thing to be able to access something from two locations than being able to access it via multiple devices (mouse, keyboard, voice, biometrics...) as i stated.

I'd like to see a study or something by a third party stating what you do above. Shortcuts are a basic aspect of computing - yes, they take some getting used to - but it makes more sense for a user's reaction to seeing something with the same name (eg. "My Documents" on desktop and in "My Computer") to be "that must be the same thing".

You're also not addressing the importance of advanced methods for users to access once they move past the novice stage. Don't you think that's important to usability?

Anyway, try to point to some articles/research/etc to help me see where you're coming from. :)

Horrortaxi
May 24, 2004, 02:05 PM
If anyone cares, I'm doing some testing between my cube running the latest Mac OS with a similarly equipped PC running it's latest OS (both Windows and Linux). I don't care about power, just usability--the computer has to be able to do commmon things. You can find the results so far if you dig around my blog--though I'm not done yet. So far the Mac OS is kicking Windows' ass.

Basically, I'm forming the opinion that if Windows was free that one could forgive most of its shortcomings--it's usable. You get what you pay for, after all. But for free I doubt anyone would use it (except for Microsoft's manhandling of the industry/world). Linux is also free, just about as easy to use, and just plain better. Windows should be the OS that comes with your PC that you ditch as soon as you get home. $400 PC's would come with Windows, but good ones wouldn't. That's how I see things anyway.

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 02:20 PM
Anyway, try to point to some articles/research/etc to help me see where you're coming from. :)

well, i try to, but not today i'm afraid. for now you have to just take apple osx for an example ;) there's no "documents" folder on the desktop. why? i remember seeing an article at apple.com about it, but have to search for it a little.

have i stated that all shortcuts are bad? i'm just making a point that multiple locations for same resource is bad, and quite specifically making an example of the "my documents" case. that is completely diifferent case than the keyboard shortcut of ctrl-s versus mouse click on a menu bar. in my point of view those two address the same resource the same way, the only difference being the device being used. now what if for some reason the keyboard and mouse was taken off the computer and the only input device would be the microphone? the voice command equals the mouse click or the keyboard stroke, there's no difference.

but you're right, i have some studying to do regarding shortcuts. specifically the dock i already mentioned, and the finder sidebar. those shortcuts are useful and most importantly: it is up to the user to use them or not, or to customize the way one likes. but how to fit it into the theorems, that needs a little more thinking by myself; however, i keep defending my point i made earlier, whereas every resource should be accessible from only one location. (to be strict, the desktop is also a folder. that's why i tend to keep the desktop empty, and if there's something, it is there temporarily because i want to have it there for a moment, thus i'm using the desktop as a specific tool and i never access the desktop folder via the finder.)

JFreak
May 24, 2004, 02:23 PM
$400 PC's would come with Windows, but good ones wouldn't.

that's exactly how it is right now - the apple computers don't come with windows :D ok, end of sarcasm...

Horrortaxi
May 24, 2004, 07:50 PM
that's exactly how it is right now - the apple computers don't come with windows :D ok, end of sarcasm...
Very true. I meant PC hardware, but you are right.

gekko513
May 25, 2004, 09:46 AM
I studied GUI design (HCI) as part of my major, and I remember the principle JFreak is referring to. I can't find the book we used though.