What It’s Like To Be A Usability Geek

I gladly admit that I’m a usability geek, which means that sometimes, the most important things for me may be small and insignificant for others. I encounter this every day. Here are two examples from today.

Our new dvd recorder at home is not very intuitive to use so normally I control it when our kid wants to see something on it. Today I forgot to set the timer, and called to ask my wife do it. While she was frustrated on the trouble I had to put her through, i focused on some useful usability observations:

  1. My phone registered the call duration at 9 minutes and 33 seconds for talking her through how to create a timer on the dvd (including the 45 seconds startup time).
  2. I had a chance to confirm the usability issues I have seen and written about earlier (and want to write more about).
  3. I regretted that I did not record the call, so that I could have been able to use it later.

Another example:

I’m active in our Copenhagen Ruby user group. The meeting today was labeled “October 07” (07 because it’s a monthly meeting this year), and I immediately started thinking “why is that meeting moved from the 7th to the 24th. So now all our meetings in the Copenhagen Ruby User group are renamed “October 2007”, etc

Yes, I’m a usability geek and I’m proud of it! I guess that comes with the job :)

Earlier article:

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5 Responses to “What It’s Like To Be A Usability Geek”

  1. Tobias Says:

    It would be nice if phones were able to record all conversations, and then ask if it should be saved when you finish. This would also be nice for retrieving phone numbers or appointment times etc. that might have been mentioned.

  2. Dave Says:

    For me, the stress comes from knowing how far a little bit of usability effort would have gone. How much more would my cellphone cost if they had spent a little more time on usability…$5? I’d pay a premium several times that for a phone without such slow, convoluted menus.

    The CMS we’re tied to is supposed to be working on usability improvements for a major upgrade next summer. Based on past experience with them, I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified.

  3. Suffian Says:

    That story about your Rugby group is funny, man. I can relate to that. I think it’s normal that you start questioning the usability of things more when usability is your day-job. Ironically, I use a Motorola KZR. The user interface is frustrating, but I like the stylish shape of it.

  4. Robin Laurén Says:

    Since we stumbled onto phones, in my humble (and usability-ist) opinion, the phone should always record the call in a “volatile cache” of sorts, where the old phone calls would be purged from if you don’t explicitly throw them away.

    It Should Just Work.


  5. Christina Wulf Says:

    No doubt, It would be very nice to be able to – in the middle of the conversation – realize that the conversation should be saved and just do it. But think about the uprage that would occur if people was told that all calls would be recorded in the future… There’s probably a reason why they don’t do it ;o)