Digital Appendixes

Dear Developers:

Thank you for catapulting us into the new age of communication and information.  Your efforts have brought more changes to the industry of education than was brought to the industry of transportation by the inventors of the wheel.  We are eternally in your debt.  Really, thanks.

Yet I think you have forgotten something important and I feel the need to lean in and tell you a little secret.  Ready?  Listening?  OK, here it is…..

People have to use your products.

Yes, real people, us.  We click through all the products and services you design.  This means that every decision you make, even the ones you made at the beginning of the product design, have profound effects on our user experience.

So could you do us a favor?  Please?

Go back every once in a while and use the products you create.  Really.

You’ll discover dozens of quirks, twists, turns and traps that keep is clicking and ctrl-tabbing forward and back through dozens of screens just to do the basics.  Many of these clicks and cut ‘n’ pastes are obsolete but remain stuck in the program like an obsolete appendix, left over from the Jurassic Era of Windows 95.  No one else in consumer product design could get away with this idiocy.  Do Model T crank starters still hang down in front of cars?  Does the ice-man still stuff blocks in your freezer?  Does Blockbuster still carry VHS tapes?

Schoolwires – you folks who sell school systems web site packages, please step up front to get started on this right away.  Perhaps you can convince administrators that your product is designed to make it easy for teachers to create web pages, but not us who actually use it.  Are you aware that it takes no less than ten clicks in insert a link in a web page?  Then to add insult to injury, you won’t let the teacher just past the url from the other tab on their browser.

Anachronism Most of us open the page we want to link to in another tab, grab the url from the address bar and get ready to click and paste it and move on to our next activity.  But no, you make use a drop down menu to put what is already in our pasted url, then go back to the url and delete what you just forced us to select from a drop down.

Hello?  Have you ever used your product?  This like coming home from the grocery store with everything you need, then getting back into the car, throwing out the milk and driving to the local convience store to buy another gallon.Anachronism 2

And what about the “Apply” and “OK” buttons?  Sure, I know your going to tell us that there are people who will make changes and then update the page with the “Apply” in order to see the change, then make more changes before using the “OK” to leave the page once and for all.  I have news for you though, only one teacher out of a thousand is going to do that.  We are making the same sort of basic changes we always do.

Cursing you every step of the way.

Thanks for not going into the automotive industry.  If you had chosen a different path in life, we could be trying to drive our cars with the steering wheel on the left side of the car, and the gas pedal on the right.

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