Did I just delete that?

Yesterday, I watched a middle-aged woman struggle to figure out a piece of software that she was supposed to be trained on and know how to use. She deleted an entry from the database and was going to delete another entry, when she decided that she’d ask the supervisor. Thank heavens; see it’s my power (electricity) bill that we’re talking about.

When the entry was to be deleted, the software did put up the mandatory dialog box with a ‘Are you sure?’ or some such variant and then displayed ‘Record deleted successfully’. I hope that the software at least has an audit trail to allow for corrections in case of problems.

There’s another matter that’s been bugging me though: I wonder if the designers/programmers realised that their software was going to be used by people who were older, not-so computer savvy, and maybe just slower in their computer movements (than the regular computer people).

I suspect not, because the fonts were small and to read the menu, the lady had to crane her neck towards the computer. Not ergonomically-friendly at all. Also, watching the lady in operation, it was interesting how she used the mouse to cut and paste some information into different input boxes. Either she wasn’t aware of the Ctrl+X,V method or it wasn’t implemented in the software.

All this I noticed in about three minutes of watching the lady use the software. It wasn’t a scientific study, it wasn’t an experiment in a lab, and if a company does it, they’ll get some great ideas on how to make the software-user interaction so much better.


3 thoughts on “Did I just delete that?

  1. This is one of the chief problems in business today. Companies lack productivity because their employees are not aware of shortcuts, or what not to do with files. Permissions are not set correctly and users abuse them. I do a lot of training in the small business field that addresses the persmissions and shortcuts problems almost exclusively.

  2. Hmm.. No matter how easy it is to use the software, there are two factors that determine how easy it would be for the operator to use it – The first being a mental block which keeps telling the operator that it computers are difficult, and the second, Good training with hands-on workshop on the software which automatically takes care of the first. I recently saw this myself. A hands-on workshop conducted on using a product ensured that no one using the same had any issues whatsoever. For a moment, I was surprised too. :-)

  3. Jason: Yeah, I think it’s a problem and what makes it worse is the lack of awareness of the problem. It’s cool that you’re getting to do training and helping people become more productive.

    Niranj: I think there are mental blocks with just about anything new that someone is asked to use. I think it has to do with people being afraid of technology but that’s another topic. About training, it is important and can be critical, as you’ve mentioned. However, the other point that I was making was to observe users in action and see what they are doing with the software to figure out where to make corrections.

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