dan bricklin proves once again that he’s a smart guy with his well articulated piece, The “Computer as Assistant” Fallacy:

“Many people think that the barrier to some applications is how hard they are to learn to use and that they will only catch on when it’s “brain dead simple” to learn. I think in many cases the real problem is that the application is just not that valuable to the people — they have ways to do the same thing that are OK or they just don’t care. The challenge is in creating the right tools that are appropriate to the task as seen by the individual, and having the use be worthwhile. Making it “simple” often is translated into making it less flexible but it is often the flexibility we look for in our tools as humans.”

peter touches on a related point [ in my mind at least ] with his thoughts on design for mobile/wireless devices [ i wish peter would offer up more convenient permalinks – this post was made by him on march 24th, 2001 ] :

” A flaw in the design of many websites is that they do not fit within a user’s context–they were designed to replace it. There was a bizarre assumption that users would happily transfer all that activity to the Web. This faulty understanding was a core factor contributing to the ineffectiveness of many sites. In reality, a web site is lucky to get, oh, 15 minutes out of a person’s day. A smart designer understands this as a constraint, and builds a system to support it.

Happily, what I saw on the wireless panel was an understanding of this behavior, probably due to the form of wireless devices. Small portable objects. They obviously cannot replace a current experience, but it’s clear they can augment one.”

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