Our best foot forward

Onno Benschop onno at itmaze.com.au
Thu Nov 15 21:27:08 UTC 2007

On 15/11/07 22:55, Patrick wrote:
> Has Canonical carried out studies with new users of different technical 
> abilities? This might be a good thing to do. After a Newbie installs 
> Ubuntu where do they go first? How is their experience in the first 
> hour. To woe Windows users I think the first hour or so needs to be 
> entirely painless.

The studies you're describing are usability studies and a recent posting
on this list started discussing how to notify users about how to install
non-Ubuntu software and how to interact with them. That discussion as
well as this one indicate that there is scope for a lot of work in this
field. I'm sure that some work has been done, though I suspect it was
conducted within the Gnome / KDE realm, rather than within a
distribution. I've not yet had time to look further into this, though
it's on my to-do list.

I'm pointing this out because I'm (or was :) an Interactive Multi-Media
developer (that is when the term was coined in the early 1990's and
scripting was done with Hypercard and later Supercard) from way back. As
a member of a leading team at the time we did research on how to
interact with the user and how to get their attention - short outcome,
it's hard :)

When I have a spare moment I'll go back to my old documents and
colleagues and see what I can dig up.

I agree that a user experience of a computer needs to be entirely
painless, but as an industry we're currently heading in the opposite
direction, that is more and more complexity. In the time that Macintosh
Human Interface Guidelines were the bible of how to interact with a user
- before it was Embraced and Extended by Microsoft, one of the best
comments I remember was: "If the program can figure out what the answer
to a question is, or if the information already exists, or if the
question has already been asked, don't bother the user with it."

The post-install scripts follow this reasoning pretty much, though I'm
fuzzy on how it's implemented for most packages.

Whether or not any of the above will actually woe a Windows user is a
whole different discussion :)


Onno Benschop

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