It’s All About the User, Including Moms: Lindows and Windows
June 17th PapaScott wrote about installing Windows 2000 Pro on his mom’s computer. He’d love to install Linux for her but he also understands his mom not wanting to learn a second OS. On the other hand, a few days later over at ExtremeTech Jim Lynch wrote about having his mom try Lindows 4.0 in Mom Meets Linux - A Lindows 4.0 Review. Jim’s mom, who hadn’t previously worked with Linux, found her way around Lindows pretty easily. PapaScott’s mom works in Excel and Windows daily at work. I’m thinking that Jim and PapaScott ought to pow-wow about this, as maybe a Lindows approach wouldn’t be such a daunting way to learn one’s way around Linux.
I mention these two experiences because they’re good reminders to us web designers and developers about the importance of creating websites from the user’s perspective. Reading Jim’s review about his mom trying out the new Lindows 4.0 is a terrific example of standing back and just observing someone interacting with the computer. I’ve learned so much from watching my kids, other family members, friends, and colleagues interact with computers and especially websites. Doing so can give tremendous insight about how differently others can use software, browsers, navigate through websites and interact. We can then use that insight to create more user-friendly websites.
My ex-husband not so long ago learned that you need to actually move the mouse, which then helped him browse the Web a lot easier. (Our kids and I still laugh about his mouse adventures.) He’s quite well-educated and successful in his profession but he only uses the Web to check stats for his running club now and then and his staff checks his e-mail for him. This example reminds me that what may seem obvious to some of us may not be obvious to others. We’re all at different levels of computer literacy, and it’s critical to know the target audience for your sites to plan accordingly.