Categories: Ideas/Insights

The human aspect of computing

There is a side to computing in which developers of software try to appeal to so-called average users. The idea is to make software friendly and easy to work with. Most people who are confronted with computers very quickly have an emotional experience when something doesn’t go as was hoped for. They can quickly lose heart when confronted with some message indicating that things didn’t quite work out, that there was some slight mishap or a hiccup.

We who consider ourselves slightly more advanced users don’t seem to have that problem. We understand it’s just a machine. We understand the principles of Garbage In Garbage Out. To us it’s just a tool. But millions out there don’t feel the same.

It is with this thought in mind that I have been wondering about some of the messages that frequently come up in any common application. Often you are presented with a dialog box that has a message to the effect of: “Something went wrong and your application will close”. Accompanying the message is a single button labeled “OK”. Now that in itself is not very friendly. It’s not like you’re being given an option to voice your discontent.

Instead, what if you had two buttons: One that said “OK“, and one that said: “It’s not OK. I’m very upset about this. I was working on something very important, and now are telling me that my hard work is lost.“. Of course both buttons would do the same thing. If you clicked either, the application would still close, and your data would be gone forever. But at least you had a chance to say what you feel.

That’s more human.

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