In comparison with you, most people seem to be dumb
Most people know about the difference between Firefox and Internet Explorer in the Internet industry. We also know what FTW is and what the difference is between ASP, PHP and RoR. At least we know what the difference is.
If you meet a businessman who has not ever heard about Digg, Google Apps or the Freemium, you'll be very surprised. Is not it right?
But this is only us; the small subset of digerati who have the time to keep track of new things that are related to our industry. What about the rest of the world? They have no idea of this aspect, and this is all right. The problem arises when you try to foresee the needs of your users. There is a possibility that they would not understand you at all. Here are some good examples:
1. Recently, my father has told me that he does not understand how to respond to the text messages. He got a modern iPhone. What could be a problem here? So he opened up the "Messages" application, gestured at the interface, and said to me, "Where the hell is a reply button?". I was dumbfounded. The iPhone interface is the most elegant and easiest to understand interface in the market. However, there is no recognizable element that my father needed to understand. Without this button, he just did not know how to reply.
2. Several years ago, I serviced an online calendar of birthdays. There were showed all days of the month with a big red button on top "Add a birthday". The button was so big that I thought it should be noticed. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I used to receive about 100 messages per day and about 60 of them began with the words "I do not know how to add a birthday". At first I was very angry at ignorant people who thought that it was more convenient to send someone email then just to think and look around for more than two seconds. But then I did some tests and found out that most people thought that they just had to click the calendar to add the birthday. If it did not work as they assumed, people thought that the system got a bug. That was my fault, not theirs.
3. Recently, a woman approached me at the reception and said that her daughter is also named Loïs. She said, "I was hoping to ask you, as I noticed that you know how to put the umlaut over the 'i'. Could you explain me how to do it on my iPhone?”. I explained that to her, and the next day I told this story to my colleagues in the office at lunch. I was laughing and saying "Perhaps, some people still do not know how to select the special characters on the iPhone!”. But no one laughed with me. Then someone said, "I do not know too. How did you do it?", and then someone else has admitted that he does not know that, and in the end it turned out that nobody knew it.
4. A few days ago, Patrick got a phone call from his father with the question how to find something on the Internet. Patrick asked him, what is the URL? But the father did not seem to understand what he was talking about. Then Patrick asked again, what is the address of website? His father still did not understand, so that Patrick explained him that he needs the letters that are in the browser address line, so the father replied, I do not know anything about it. I just click the blue internet icon and Google opens, I type what I want to and I get there. Obviously, you can buy tickets, check your email and do whatever you want online without even knowing that each site has a separate address that is called URL.
What is the meaning of all these stories? If you know how to use the special characters like ü, é or © on your iPhone or PC, if you know what the URL is and how to use most of the applications on your smartphone then you belong to a small group of experts. Do not assume that all people just like you are. Make your programs, websites and tools as simple as possible, and always test them on the people.
In fact, people are not dumb you just got more knowledge in your field. Do not let the knowledge to blind yourself.
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