Userability Podcast #3 – Blind to Average Users

Brian Christiansen

February 13th, 2009


Duration: 13m | 7.5 MB
Recorded: January, 2009
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
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This week’s episode demonstrates the lengths that people will go to be a part of the Userability Podcast. Or, at least how far their Skype connection will go; a bit over 10,000 miles (16,400km) in this case! We were joined by Keith Lang, co-founder of Plasq, makers of Skitch all the way from Canberra, Australia. He blogs at UI&us.

Keith offered this question,

All of us UI designers spend a lot of time with computers and become blind to certain problems. What would you say are the most common UIs, or processes, that confuse or impede the average computer-user?

For example, I notice many people having problems paying attention to dialogue boxes, and recalling what they said. They just click OK, even on ones with brief text–sometimes with bad results.

Tune in to hear what Jared and Robert thought.

We’re always looking for guests to stump Jared and Robert. Send us an email at with your burning design-related questions.

What do you have to add to Robert and Jared’s list? What do you see confusing users? Let us know in the comments!

5 Responses to “Userability Podcast #3 – Blind to Average Users”

  1. ike Says:

    In one of my web applications still in development I believe I’ve found a decent solution to the problem of showing users where things are draggable. I used a CSS cursor declaration for the draggable icon so that when the user moves the mouse over it, the cursor changes from the pointer into a set of corner angles (an incomplete box). This lets the user know that the icon is a tool, hopefully without giving them the impression that it’s a clickable tool like an iconized “button”, which is usually indicated by changing the icon in some way such as changing the background. I then add a title attribute which creates tool-tip style text to inform them to “drag to [location]” to indicate how they can use the object.

    In my case the application is an address book. The draggable icon in most cases represents a contact and the hint says “drag to address books”. To make this even more transparent there’s also a bit of text above the list of address books on the left which appears only when the mouse is over a draggable icon and says “drop contacts below” with a couple of arrows pointing down at the list of address books. Finally once they drag a contact, each address book is highlighted as the contact icon is dragged over it, indicating which address book will receive the contact.

    You’re right, it’s a tough problem, but I believe it is surmountable. With some users who are particularly unfamiliar with computers there may still be confusion about holding down the mouse key to perform the drag operation, but for the majority of users who’ve used windowed interfaces previously and seen a drag operation performed a few times, I think this solution should easily inform a solid majority of them.

  2. The ‘Userability’ podcast question | UI and us Says:

    […] There’s a great new podcast called Userability put out by Jared and Robert from UIE . I called in and asked them: “What are the top most usability issues that us UI people have become blind to?” […]

  3. roy Says:

    I find the userability podcast quite annoying. I don’t mind jokes when combined with actual content, but the balance seems a bit off here. Also, why is it not a seperate podcast subscription? I really like the “regular” podcasts, but would rather skip these, I didn’t really asked to be subscribed to them either, they were just added to the existing podcast series…

  4. Cara Says:

    I must say that this podcast does not seem to have much substance. As “roy” indicated, the advice, which isn’t very helpful, is sandwiched between too much joking and pointless chatter about the lack of activities in Canberra.

    I would recommend this podcast to only those individuals who feel that advice such as ‘try to convince the user not to use the computer at all’ will help them in their job as UE/UX professionals.

  5. Random Thoughts » Blog Archive » Can Grandma Use Your Website? Says:

    […] some overdue podcasts onto my iPod for some road trip enjoyment. One of these podcast’s was Userability #3 the guest on the show asked about interactions that we become numb to in using the computer so […]

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