User Friendly? Hmmmm

Let’s look at the way things work for a second. I was talking to a client recently who was trying to email a file for me to review. They were having trouble attaching the file to the email. So we engaged in a short phone conversation, resolved the issue, and then they were able to send the file. Our conversation really got me thinking about the state of technology and what we as consumers put up with to use it. So here’s my little rant on the state of technology.

The way things work it’s a wonder we get anything done at all. How many times have you heard (or said!) any of the following;

  • Maybe I didn’t save it.
  • I probably pushed the wrong button.
  • Where did I save it?
  • Is the internet working for you?
  • Why can’t I (insert complaint here)?
  • Where is that picture?
  • What does that mean?
  • Should I click on that?
  • Memory is full?

We have pretty much come to expect these problems and realize that we have to make technological concessions with our computers and related devices like printers, scanners and the like.

Now take this collective group of concessions and imagine our reactions if they were applied to other conveniences in our lives. Look at our cars. One of the most advanced pieces of machinery in the world but with just a moderate amount of instruction, almost everyone can operate one. We don’t require an in-depth knowledge of what’s under the hood or what operating system is in use. Just put the key in and go. As long as we know where to put gas in, we are pretty well set.

Computers should be no more difficult to use than a kitchen toaster. Put bread in, press down toaster lever, out comes toast. If our toasters operated the same way our computers do it would be more like this:

How To Make Toast

  1. Boot up toaster.
  2. Do you want to update to toaster operating system (last update was yesterday)
  3. Toaster must be restarted to finish update
  4. Toaster booting – checking for updates
  5. Ready to make toast, please choose white bread or whole wheat bread
  6. Are you sure? (caution pressing lever now will cause irreversible damage to bread)
  7. Ok making toast now
  8. Pops up after 30 seconds still bread – continue (Y/N) – resulting in finished product of black toast

See where I’m going here? While technology is amazing, we are still miles away from resembling anywhere close to user-friendly. The people who make and market all these devices want us to believe they are all so easy to use. I don’t buy it.

So as we drive down the road with the top down and the sun shining, we’re happy we don’t have to pump all our gas through an anti-virus filter when we stop to fuel up.

Technology? User friendly? Come on man!