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Users and Expectations


... are most users stupid?

This is post no. 46 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

Scenario 1: the fossbro

You should just run Gentoo.

Like, no one should ever even touch proprietrary software. You should just say no. There are perfectly viable alternatives to most of them! For example, you can self-host an email server instead of gmail (here is this 87-page manual explaining how to do this!). And you already have a VPS anyway. ... wait, you don't? You should totally get one!

So you want to run your Windows games? Well, most of them will work on Wine. It's really easy to set up. Except... OK, if you have an nvidia card, you'll need to add the binaries by hand, but it only takes, like, 3 minutes, everyone can do it. I certainly could.

I also highly recommend getting a Pinephone. You were worried about megacorps spying on you, right? Not on this one! And then you could move over all your friends to Signal, since... group MMS doesn't really work. Yeah, you can still definitely use Facebook (no, it's not an app, but... the browser technically works).

... you say it's less pretty. Well, true beauty is in simplicity and openness. Everything else is bullshit.

Don't worry too much if a lot of it is still new to you. The command line is a lot easier to use than an iPhone once you get used to it. It's just a couple years. And you gain valuable sysadmin skills, too! (... no, of course you'll need them. Everyone needs valuable sysadmin skills.)

... wait, you bought what instead?

[darn. Why are most people this stupid. If only they cared more.]

Scenario 2: the corporate UX designer

Most people are stupid. They don't care.

Our studies show that they get confused if they see more than 4 icons in a row, and they have the attention span of a gerbil. We are going to plan for this. Thus, we'll remove one of the icons so that the number of clicks on the remaining three will meet expectations.

Also, what's that lengthy error message during that driver install, with all the computery details? This should never happen anyway. If it still does though... we have to say something more... friendly. How about... "This process could not been completed this time; please contact your system administrator.". Not even the stupidest user would find that confusing. Sure, all the sysadmin types will complain that we're removing important detail, but... what percentage of users looking at this will be sysadmins, anyway?

We also know that users find the concept of a "file system" hard to grasp. Hierarchical nested folders are confusing. So our Auto-Sync Cloud Folders will be a lot simpler: they'll just have pictues in them. Except for the Cloud Mega Folder feature, where we join multiple Cloud Folders to avoid users thinking about this. If there is overlap, we'll do Smart Selection conditioned on resolution and image quality (no you can't switch this off, since that would be a setting, and therefore too confusing).

... wait, of course this only works with Cloud Mega Application Suite. Of course they can't just share it there, it'd be years of extra work. No, I don't know what rsync is, but it's probably just an urban legend anyway.

[... can't users just not overthink stuff and avoid coming up with all these atypical use cases that they care way too much about?]

The point being...

... assuming users want to learn All The Things is about as wrong as assuming that they'd never want to.

Maybe we could design things so that it would target both of them? Since... it's not even two distinct groups?

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.