Weekend Discussion: Usability - Mozilla to West Palm Beach

Friday November 10th, 2000

We're all probably keenly aware that there were numerous usability problems (and here) with the balloting in West Palm Beach county during this Presidential election which created voting patterns which according to statisticians are, for all practical purposes, an impossibility.

Not going into questions of legitimacy regarding the vote, my questions to you are these: Can blame be placed when usability issues create incorrect or uncertain results? Is there remedy? Much has been said about usability issues in Mozilla - how does Mozilla's usability play a part in the developer/user relationship? Is there blame to be placed if a lack of usability testing creates an interface that's difficult for users to navigate? Do you think a correlation can be drawn between software UI usability and usability issues for paper interfaces like government forms or ballots? What responsiblity, if any, does the user hold for navigating a UI or form that suffers from serious usability issues?

#15 Second graders and elderly voters

by mpt <>

Saturday November 11th, 2000 8:45 PM

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`Of course, when 100% of a second grade class can mark such a ballot correctly (tested yesterday), what does that say about the users?\'

It says two things. Firstly that the second graders have, on average, better eyesight than the elderly voters. And secondly that the second graders are treating the as a puzzle to solve, and are putting their full attention into deciphering the interface rather than into deciding who to vote for.

`How can we effectively design an interface that could bridge a gap to people who cannot follow arrows?\'

By designing an interface that does not require arrows. If something as simple as a door requires verbal instructions in the form of the words `PUSH\' or `PULL\', there is something wrong with the design of the door. Similarly, if something as simple as a ballot paper requires visual instructions in the form of arrows, there is something wrong with the design of the ballot paper.