Why GNOME is on the right track

by davidnielsen

I read the following story on Digg the other day, complexity causes 50% of all product returns and it got me thinking about how complex things around me are and if I didn’t enjoy playing with technology how easy I would have given up.

Take my TV remote, now I have turned off my TV for good I haven’t used the remote in roughly a year and I started looking at the icons to see if I could figure out what the intent was. A whooping 4 buttons had… no function what so ever, I tried everything, they’re just there to provide features for extended models I think. The icons were horrible, I couldn’t tell what most of the buttons were supposed to do without trying them. Absolutely horrible.

If the 50% return rate due to complexity is even remotely similar in IT, I can see nothing except the that GNOME is definately on the right track for capturing the greatest common benefactor user group. I always knew that usability mattered but it shocks me that half of all returns are because of bad usablilty.

The study is quite clear, we have 20 mins to capture the user and get him to do real work – I don’t think we currently are in a shape to do that, we are not task oriented enough, there’s to much setup time involved in tasks like using email or instant messaging.

BetterDesktop shows us that average users will spend minutes figuring out what we would consider simple tasks.

The question is, how do we best spend our 20 mins?