Mar 20, 2006

User Interface Friction: It’s What Makes You Hate Computers

Opinion: Research on Web useability is easy to find, but not so for operating systems and hardware. We need a new lexicon for understanding differences between devices.

Source: Publish
Written by Andreas Pfeiffer

In 2005 and early 2006, my company, Pfeiffer Consulting, conducted an extensive research project collecting information about Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

During the research interviews, which included users of both platforms, many Macintosh users stated that they found their computers “more fluid,” more productive, easier to use. They were, however, most often at a loss when they were asked to quantify their perceptions.

These recurring statements were intriguing for us: From a purely functional perspective, both operating systems have become increasingly similar, and even in terms of user interface, the basic concepts and user interface paradigms used by Windows and Macintosh are almost identical.

This discrepancy between user perception and technical features led us to have a closer look at user interface differences, usability and productivity. During this research, we realized that the terms and concepts we use to analyze technology have remained surprisingly simplistic given the importance digital tools and devices have in our lives.

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