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Monday 23 April 2012 6:55:25 pm - 7 replies

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Introduction

Meet Mr. Thomas Proutoi, 55. He is a senior logistic manager in the “Meumet” furniture company in France. He is very nice and intelligent. He is a very valuable worker and personally just a fabulous man with rich life story. He was some kind of Indiana Johnes in his youth, excavating artifacts in all corners of the world. Now he is dad and grandfather. He can repair his own car without going to service and can entertain small children for hours.

He really dislikes computers. Typing a short text in "Word" makes him suffer. Typing a longer text in "Word" makes suffer the whole IT-Department of his company, regularly. The technical support ladies are gambling for the right to take a vacation in the week when Thomas will be writing his year report.

And this guy writes very important reports, because he knows a damn lot about the business. And he should be able to publish them, together with some collateral information, on the web site using the eZ Publish.

Welcome to designer's hell. 

Monday 23 April 2012 11:23:10 pm

Very evocative !

Tuesday 24 April 2012 10:59:41 am

I feel that I know this guy! There are so many "personas" with similar characteristics here in Greece. This one has some strong advantages though. He likes to fiddle with mechanical stuff. He likes reading. He is a good photographer.

If he is able to understand the inner workings of a complex system like a car, then he is certainly able to understand how to use an interactive interface. It seems that he gets anxious and impatient when using a computer though.

Modified on Tuesday 24 April 2012 11:00:35 am by Theodoros Papageorgiou

Wednesday 02 May 2012 5:37:14 pm

Quote from Theodoros Papageorgiou :

If he is able to understand the inner workings of a complex system like a car, then he is certainly able to understand how to use an interactive interface. It seems that he gets anxious and impatient when using a computer though.

Sadly, it's not the case. There is a huge difference between mechanical non-modal direct systems and interactive systems. The difference - which causes so much pain for such many people - is that the mechanical interfaces are mostly modeless: if there is a button, then it has a function. If there is a lever - then it does something, when empowered. Interactive interfaces are different: there one button can have many functions, depending on situation.

An alarm clock is a good example: old ones had one knob to set the hours arrow, one for minutes, one for alarm time (without differenciating between day and night), and a button, that could be pushed up (to make alarm mechanism run on arriving the set time) or down (to shut alarm off). Modern alarm clocks usually have a couple of poorly labeled buttons, two of them "increase" and "increase", third lets you choose mode of what should be reduced or increased - hours or minutes, or (if you hold it for two seconds) to enter the calendar mode and choose days, months and years to be manipulated, or if you would press it twice it would switch you into alarm mode and then you will choose between hours and minutes as well, but now for alarm time, et cetera... Such interface sucks, but if you're using it every day - well, you can train yourself to some behavioral algorithm and after a couple of weeks you won't feel yourself terrorized by the system as much as if you have to change alarm time only twice a year happy.gif Emoticon

Especially for people, who used to work a lot with mechanics, computers can cause a serious problem - because the principles, on which their interfaces work are completely different and are context-dependend. So, in case of Thomas - his technical background is more a disadvantage.

Though there is one important thing: Thomas uses Facebook and iPhoto - which means that he can work with computers, but has to be really motivated to do it. And if there is something which he doesn't understand - he will never ever go explore. He will call IT department and cry for help.

Thursday 03 May 2012 12:44:46 am

I think when it comes to the eZ admin interface, both front and back end versions, one way of making the interface less daunting to casual users would be to make it easier to hide bits of the interface that aren't required by that particular user.

The embed dialogue is a good case in point. There's a dropdown for 'view': 'embed', 'embed-inline', 'full' and 'line'. Unless you have been trained in using eZ there's very little chance you will have any idea what this means (and I suspect most installations don't really use much more than 'embed' anyway).

There are also checkboxes for 'offset' and 'limit'. I've been using eZ for about seven years and I still have no idea what these are for.

Most of these things are fixable by customisation, but the out of the box experience is not what I would call friendly for first time users.

One 'quick and dirty' method I've used with some success is adding an extension which hides superfluous items with CSS, and which adds user tips via CSS before: rules.

Modified on Thursday 03 May 2012 3:22:20 am by paul bolger

Friday 04 May 2012 3:29:13 pm

Quote from paul bolger :

I think when it comes to the eZ admin interface, both front and back end versions, one way of making the interface less daunting to casual users would be to make it easier to hide bits of the interface that aren't required by that particular user.

The embed dialogue is a good case in point. There's a dropdown for 'view': 'embed', 'embed-inline', 'full' and 'line'. Unless you have been trained in using eZ there's very little chance you will have any idea what this means (and I suspect most installations don't really use much more than 'embed' anyway).

There are also checkboxes for 'offset' and 'limit'. I've been using eZ for about seven years and I still have no idea what these are for.

Most of these things are fixable by customisation, but the out of the box experience is not what I would call friendly for first time users.

This is very close to what we're trying to do now. The general concept or strategy is "simplicity on start, complexity on demand" + easier customization. I we've done a couple of "mini CMSes" in my time, kind of writing the editorial part for each site specifically. They were, of course, very light in functionality, but very precise, targeting the exactly tasks of the site's editors.

Monday 07 May 2012 12:18:43 am

The challenge here would be to make an interface that is as universally easy to understand as that of a motor car.

Imagine cars were designed like CMS's - Every car would have completely different controls, and they would be labelled using different lexicons.

What I would like to see is for CMS developers to copy each other, work towards a standard set of terms and controls, and emphasise, or hide, features which are unique to their particular system. In eZ's case the object embedding is a great feature, but Wordpress users aren't going to have a clue what it's about without being coached.

Of course this is dependant on your overall aim in developing a CMS - If your goal is to give yourself plenty of ongoing work helping people through a labyrinth-like interface this wouldn't help. Personally I like the idea of being able to hand the project over to the customer and to not expect to hear from them again until I do a yearly upgrade and checkup.

Modified on Monday 07 May 2012 5:55:48 am by paul bolger

Friday 11 May 2012 9:00:48 am

Quote from paul bolger :

What I would like to see is for CMS developers to copy each other, work towards a standard set of terms and controls, and emphasise, or hide, features which are unique to their particular system. In eZ's case the object embedding is a great feature, but Wordpress users aren't going to have a clue what it's about without being coached.

Well, simply said, I would like to see CMS developers targeting the primary needs of the users - this would automatically bring interfaces to a very clean-and-simple level, where the user will not need any special advices on how to control the software not because it's similar with everything else, but because it's logical and obvious.

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