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Chapter 38. Improving Intermediates > Disenfranchised Majority

Disenfranchised Majority

I think one of the most serious problems in user interface design today is that most of the attention is given to laying out the bunny slopes of software. Expert users are grudgingly accommodated by leaving open access to rather rough and ugly “advanced” features or by cobbling together a random set of keystroke shortcuts and an awkward macro facility. But the “improving intermediates,” who may well be the most numerous and most important category, are virtually ignored.

If a system is useful and reasonably well designed, users will not remain novices forever. A minority of them may eventually become experts or power users, but the majority will probably spend their days as improving intermediates. Their needs are neither those of experts nor novices; they need a user interface that allows them to steadily and incrementally add knowledge of the software and increase their skill in using it. It should not punish them for what they don't know or need, and it should not send them unexpectedly hurtling down the double-black-diamond slopes of dialogues only a C++ programmer could love.


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