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Part VI: Software Usability > Improving Intermediates

Chapter 38. Improving Intermediates

Ski trails come in three varieties—green, blue, and black—because skiers, too, are of three kinds: novices, intermediates, and experts. I happen to be an intermediate skier, have been for years, and expect to be all my life. I'm what ski instructors refer to euphemistically as a classic “improving intermediate,” meaning I'm middle-aged, keep getting better, but not by much and not very quickly. I'm happy. I love skiing and have even survived a few of those dreaded (or lauded) double black diamond trails, usually because I miss the last turnoff onto the kinder, gentler slopes. Mostly, though, I keep my eyes out for those user-friendly blue squares and reassuring green circles.

Skiing has a lot to teach us about the relationship between users and systems and how software developers can improve that relationship. It would be a punishing experience to learn to ski on one of those steep expert slopes strewn with bone-jarring bumps. A few tyros, mostly youngsters under twelve, seem to go directly to the mogul fields following their first try on the bunny slope, but I've always suspected that they were really bionic mutants. For most of us, those wide gentle slopes marked with friendly green circles are essential for early learning.


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