The Learning Curve

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

I just want things to be simpler…

What I don’t get is why surgery these days is so complex. Every surgery you have requires four or five doctors, about the same number of nurses — and all that equipment! And then, once you get the patient open, there’s all these parts and fluid and stuff. It takes hours to get anything accomplished. Why does it have to be like that? I should be able to open up myself or anybody else, immediately change whatever I want to change, then close them back up. What’s so hard about that?

Also, can somebody explain why commercial airliners are so complicated to fly? You walk into the cockpit and there are hundreds of dials, switches, buttons. No one can make sense of it all. I don’t need all that. I just want to go up, down, left and right. Why do plane manufacturers put in a bunch of stuff I don’t need?

And, don’t get me started on building a house! When I put together a computer desk, all the parts are labelled and the instructions are easy to follow. I want a house like that. Why do they make the architecturial drawings so complex? I don’t want all those details, I just want the information I need to put the house together. Why isn’t this easy?

You just spent two minutes in my world.

The web is too complicated. Computers are too hard to use. Software is too confusing. I’ve heard these things over and over, from a wide variety of people. I hear it from strangers, when they find out what kind of work I do. I hear it from family, while they look over my sholder as I zoom through whatever task they just spent the last six hours trying to accomplish. I hear it from clients — great boogley-woogley, do I hear it from clients.

Sometimes I wonder how our species has advanced as far as it has with this attitude.

What, I have to rub two sticks together to start a fire? Why two, why not just one? And how am I supposed to remember how to rub them? Forget it — I’ll just eat the mastodon raw, it’s easier that way.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am a usability advocate. I preach accessibility to anyone who will listen. Part of the reason I went into business for myself was to help the very people I’ve just been complaining about. I know the benefits of the web, and I want as many people to have access to them as possible. I also know the web can be complicated and hard to use, and it’s my job to make it easier.

But, somedays I wish more people would put just a little effort into learning how things work. You know what they say: “God helps those who help themselves.”

The rest call me for their web design needs.