The users who don't like IT

I said it today in a presentation: all IT people are geeks. Some of us pretend we aren't, but we all of us can make our smart-phone do what we want. This causes a cognitive state capture: when we spend all day immersed in the company of other geeks and we lose sight of the fact that most of the population aren't like that. Lots of folk can't upgrade their phone to a new version of Android. They wonder how they lost their emails. They just don't get how Evernote works. They see no reason to have Twitter lists or multiple accounts.

Many IT people are insensitive and intolerant - even openly contemptuous - of users who can't roll with the UI punches, who just want to get the job done and derive no joy at all from using software for its own sake.

Don't be - it is how they are. These users don't want to configure their own personal digital environment. They are completely disinterested by the possibility to making things work. They have no understanding of what it is they are engaging with or how it operates. They force themselves to learn what to do to get the result they desire. I've seen an intelligent young accountant reduced to tears trying to switch from the Outlook look-and-feel to Gmail.

So they experience only bafflement and despair when it changes, especially unannounced.

I have no idea what proportion of the human race they are, but I suspect it is a majority. The proportion may be going down with each generation as they start earlier, but I think it isn't going away. They don't work in IT and they are less likely to hold a corporate job of any kind, but they do exist and they have a right to be heard.

Remember this the next time you are designing an interface or pushing unannounced changes or proposing an application upgrade.

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