Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bless their hearts award #09-3

This award goes to my ubiquitous user, me, who demonstrates that sometimes the user really is stupid, no really!

I signed up for Skype, the VoIP application, so Tom Johnson could do an interview with me. I had heard about it but had never used it, so I was sort of insufferably pleased with myself over being with it. I told my wife that she was "like so yesterday" and that I had grown. She told me to pick my socks up off the bathroom floor. (Thirty-six years of marriage fosters this kind of crystal clarity in a couple's communications.)

At any rate, this week I started noticing that lots of Web sites had Skype-friendly phone numbers. Example:

As the week went on, I found I was noticing these more and more. I thought, "Funny, once you become aware of something, it seems like you start noticing it everywhere." After several days it dawned on me: I was noticing it everywhere. Part of installing Skype means that it causes your browser to display phone numbers this way. Can I say business model?

Lesson learned
Sometimes the user makes stupid mistakes or stupid assumptions, and there is nothing in your design or your user assistance that can stop that. It's OK. Your application doesn't have to be fool proof, just try to make it so fools don't hurt themselves. Keep the error messages friendly and maybe take a lesson from my wife:


Gordon said...

She does have a point, don't you have a wash basket? ;-)

David Farbey said...

That's why I hate it when my son is away at University - there's no-one else to blame for the misplaced socks!