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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 3/6/2006 8:59:57 AM EDT


I've said for a long time that if we woke up tommorow and every light switch went left-right instead of up-down, that at least half of the population would be sitting in the dark come that night because they are too fucking stupid to figure it out.



ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=technologyNews&storyID=2006-03-06T150409Z_01_L06746423_RTRIDST_0_TECH-PRODUCTRETURNS-COL.XML

Complexity causes 50% of product returns -scientist

Mon Mar 6, 2006 10:03 AM EST10

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Half of all malfunctioning products returned to stores by consumers are in full working order, but customers can't figure out how to operate the devices, a scientist said on Monday.

Product complaints and returns are often caused by poor design, but companies frequently dismiss them as "nuisance calls," Elke den Ouden found in her thesis at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands.

A wave of versatile electronics gadgets has flooded the market in recent years, ranging from MP3 players and home cinema sets to media centers and wireless audio systems, but consumers still find it hard to install and use them, she found.

The average consumer in the United States will struggle for 20 minutes to get a device working, before giving up, the study found.

Product developers, brought in to witness the struggles of average consumers, were astounded by the havoc they created.

She also gave new products to a group of managers from consumer electronics company Philips, asking them to use them over the weekend. The managers returned frustrated because they could not get the devices to work properly.

Most of the flaws found their origin in the first phase of the design process: product definition, Den Ouden found.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:05:25 AM EDT
When I get a gadget that has lots of features I typically go straight for the manual first. Most people just start trying to use it and get frustrated when they can't figure out how to do stuff.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:08:28 AM EDT
This just in: People are stupid.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:10:31 AM EDT
The sad part about it is that they don't make simple things any more. Everything has to be able to do more than one thing.

Look at cell phones. Camera, music box, voice mail, text messaging, whatever else all rolled into one.


Seriously, does anyone out there know how to use ALL the features on their cell phone?


Look at VCRs and DVD players. there are ALL KINDS of settings on those.


I won't even begin to get into computers.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:11:25 AM EDT
Just look at how many people on here don't know how to post polls/pictures/links/complete sentences/etc..
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:13:34 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 9:14:45 AM EDT by warlord]

Originally Posted By piccolo:
.
.
I won't even begin to get into computers.


Doesn't matter all I look at on my computer is naked girls, how hard can that be?

Actually, many of the manufacturers are in a hurry to get gizmos to market without adequate product development.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:14:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Airwolf:


I've said for a long time that if we woke up tommorow and every light switch went left-right instead of up-down, that at least half of the population would be sitting in the dark come that night because they are too fucking stupid to figure it out.




Not really… people in general are not to swift BUT that includes designers and manual writers.

There is a serious problem with manuals for most complex products and design in general.

Manuals are quite often written by people out side the country the product is being used in and therefore very poorly written and therefore next to useless.

Manuals are also quite often written by people who know how to use the product and they tend to write the manual so it is useful only to someone who already knows how to use the product. Necessary steps are left out because the manual is not written from the perspective of someone who has no idea how the product works.

And finally many designers just do a piss poor job of making product use intuitive. Most people want to use a product without 5 hours of manual reading and experimentation.

Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:20:19 AM EDT
It isn't entirely the problem of stupid people. Sometimes manufacturers cram too many features in a product. The same is true of software. Remember the personal messaging program called ICQ? I stopped using it because it was so "good" that I couldn't find the features I wanted. They were (assuming they still existed in the last version I installed) buried in a sea of menus and sub-menus that I didn't need. Even reading the docs didn't help. ICQ was a classic example of something with too many features for its own good.

I could say the same thing about many of the fancy kitchen appliances on the market today. I can barely use the stove my mom installed in her new house. I am not tech-tarded. I am not an old fuddy duddy who is confused by anything more modern than a vacuume tube Philco radio. These products are examples of bad design and it is a result in part of trying to make a product all things to all people rather than producing two different models.

Galland
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:20:38 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:23:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 9:23:50 AM EDT by TacticalMan]
I really love how a lot of electronic devices use icons on their display. I have no idea what most of them stand for and I have little time to dig up and read the manual and even less desire to commit the dozen plus items to memory.

If I can't figure it out from the first glance (without a manual), I really don't even want to screw with it.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:27:53 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:28:58 AM EDT
When in doubt-RTFM!
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:30:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By Airwolf:


I've said for a long time that if we woke up tommorow and every light switch went left-right instead of up-down, that at least half of the population would be sitting in the dark come that night because they are too fucking stupid to figure it out.




Not really… people in general are not to swift BUT that includes designers and manual writers.

There is a serious problem with manuals for most complex products and design in general.

Manuals are quite often written by people out side the country the product is being used in and therefore very poorly written and therefore next to useless.

Manuals are also quite often written by people who know how to use the product and they tend to write the manual so it is useful only to someone who already knows how to use the product. Necessary steps are left out because the manual is not written from the perspective of someone who has no idea how the product works.

And finally many designers just do a piss poor job of making product use intuitive. Most people want to use a product without 5 hours of manual reading and experimentation.




I can agree with a lot of this.

When I used to write docs for in-house users of software it would take me FAR longer to write the manual than to put the rest of the package together. Having been one of those end-users I KNEW what they needed and how to give it to them. It was MY manager that always bitched and complained about how long it took.

Even writing in small words with lots of steps I STILL had people calling that couldn't figure it out.

As our systems became more complex we wrote up a basic troubleshooting manual (again, lots of small words and baby step-by-baby step instructions) with an iron clad "If you call us us before doing what the manual says, you will NOT be helped" policy.

Calls went down by 90+% and the few die-hards that called without doing the pre-call troubleshooting that were told to RTFM fixed their problems without further assistance.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:31:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Aimless:
I have a watch I got for Christmas a few years ago on which I cannot turn the hourly timer off. I put it in the attic.



I have had a stop watch/timer like that. It has so many nearly useless features I can't remember how to use it as a count-down timer. I shitcanned it for a $5 kitchen timer that only does 2 things: count up and count down.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:31:44 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 9:32:34 AM EDT by SmilingBandit]
As I said in this thread.


The headline could have just as well read "People are Dumb."


ETA-Note: This isn't me calling dupe, the link is just for another stupid people thread.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:35:21 AM EDT
I know from managing a group of people that repaired electronic devices (sewing machine production monitor terminals) that the repair guys usually assumed the terminals worked fine and the customers were idiots. The customer was was wrong probably closer to 5% rather than 50% if you asked the customer what was wrong then tested the device considering their exact complaint. It was the test that was flawed or not complete enough. So take a manufacturer's estimate with a huge grain of salt. So while the person doing the study may assume that the device was working perfectly, it might not be. The end user often doesn't know the difference between troubleshooting to detect a broken device and assuming they're doing something wrong.z
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:36:39 AM EDT
Actually, it is because the manufacturers of these products do not understand the customers' value proposition. Most of the complexity was never asked for nor desired by the overwhelming majority of the consumers. However, they all get to pay extra for all that unrequested complexity.

QFD is such a simple tool, but can have such a profound impact.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:37:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 9:43:24 AM EDT by TacticalMan]



Originally Posted By Airwolf:

Not really… people in general are not to swift BUT that includes designers and manual writers.

There is a serious problem with manuals for most complex products and design in general.

Manuals are quite often written by people out side the country the product is being used in and therefore very poorly written and therefore next to useless.

Manuals are also quite often written by people who know how to use the product and they tend to write the manual so it is useful only to someone who already knows how to use the product. Necessary steps are left out because the manual is not written from the perspective of someone who has no idea how the product works.

And finally many designers just do a piss poor job of making product use intuitive. Most people want to use a product without 5 hours of manual reading and experimentation.




I can agree with a lot of this.

When I used to write docs for in-house users of software it would take me FAR longer to write the manual than to put the rest of the package together. Having been one of those end-users I KNEW what they needed and how to give it to them. It was MY manager that always bitched and complained about how long it took.

Even writing in small words with lots of steps I STILL had people calling that couldn't figure it out.

As our systems became more complex we wrote up a basic troubleshooting manual (again, lots of small words and baby step-by-baby step instructions) with an iron clad "If you call us us before doing what the manual says, you will NOT be helped" policy.

Calls went down by 90+% and the few die-hards that called without doing the pre-call troubleshooting that were told to RTFM fixed their problems without further assistance.



+1

I am a programmer.

My test of software quality is whether or not a reasonably proficient computer user, who is proficient in their job description (Read: Do they know what the hell they should be accomplishing in the first place?) can operate my software with little or no training and little or no reliance on the manual. If the answer is "No", then you have designed a crappy user interface and you need to fix it.

(original quoting screwed up by my masterful editing)
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:55:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TacticalMan:

Originally Posted By Aimless:
I have a watch I got for Christmas a few years ago on which I cannot turn the hourly timer off. I put it in the attic.



I have had a stop watch/timer like that. It has so many nearly useless features I can't remember how to use it as a count-down timer. I shitcanned it for a $5 kitchen timer that only does 2 things: count up and count down.





Which is what you wanted in the first place.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 9:56:35 AM EDT
50% of all statistics are made up.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:10:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 2:02:25 PM EDT by JavaMan]

Originally Posted By Gunner1X:
50% of all statistics are made up.



The actual number is 87%.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:34:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 11:34:28 AM EDT by Rustygun]

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
Actually, it is because the manufacturers of these products do not understand the customers' value proposition. Most of the complexity was never asked for nor desired by the overwhelming majority of the consumers. However, they all get to pay extra for all that unrequested complexity.




That's the damn truth. I do not have time to read a 4 inch thick instruction manual in order to take a picture or make a phone call. It seems like you have to be an engineer to function lately. I do not have time to master the multiple unwanted, un needed features of my phone, TV, DVD player etc as if they were some kind of martial art. I can recall phones and TV's not even coming with instruction manuals. It just wasn't that hard. Now they make it hard.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:40:02 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 11:42:35 AM EDT by BangStick1]
I haven't found any product I couldn't figure out within 5 minutes toying with it at the store and I rarely have the need to read manuals.


Does this make me King [in the land of idiots]??


However, I have read a few manuals I couldn't figure out. You know the kind that were written by Japanese, translated to Chinese, then translated to English by a Hispanic migrant worker.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:45:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BangStick1:

Does this make me King [in the land of idiots]??





No, but this DOES mean you're smart enough to buy simple things.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:49:29 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2006 11:50:07 AM EDT by BuckeyeRifleman]

Originally Posted By Goonboss:
This just in: People are stupid.



In other news: The sky is blue.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:54:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
Most of the complexity was never asked for nor desired by the overwhelming majority of the consumers. However, they all get to pay extra for all that unrequested complexity.



You're correct, but the public's perception of a product that doesn't contain "added extras" is a perception that the product is somehow inferior. ("Only 100 memories? Mine has 10,000 - in color.")

Nowadays, the silicon and software are cheap, and it's very easy to "add value" to anything electronic.

Hence, you'll get it whether you want it or not.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:56:11 AM EDT
I have bought quite a few factory reconditioned items because I figure that there is a decent chance the product was not defective at all, that they people didn't like it and returned it or they were too dumb to figure out how to work it. Looks like I was not too far off
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 11:56:21 AM EDT

I have trouble opening the boxes.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 12:01:26 PM EDT
How about something as simple as a doorknob....we had a family member have a medical emergency after locking herself in the bathroom. It was interesting how long it took seemingly mechanically-inclined people to release the simple paper-clip-pinhole-unlock mechanism.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 12:02:53 PM EDT
When I used to run a camera chop, I realized that if I the (so-called) professional, couldn't figure out how to operate all a camera's features without reading the manual, then nobody could. Most people don't read manuals, esp. engineers, who know it all and pooh-pooh any advice given on how to run their cameras.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 12:08:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By Airwolf:


I've said for a long time that if we woke up tommorow and every light switch went left-right instead of up-down, that at least half of the population would be sitting in the dark come that night because they are too fucking stupid to figure it out.




Not really… people in general are not to swift BUT that includes designers and manual writers.

There is a serious problem with manuals for most complex products and design in general.

Manuals are quite often written by people out side the country the product is being used in and therefore very poorly written and therefore next to useless.

Manuals are also quite often written by people who know how to use the product and they tend to write the manual so it is useful only to someone who already knows how to use the product. Necessary steps are left out because the manual is not written from the perspective of someone who has no idea how the product works.

And finally many designers just do a piss poor job of making product use intuitive. Most people want to use a product without 5 hours of manual reading and experimentation.




Bingo!
It's amazing how many large corporations cannot get ahold of competant translators; improperly translated words, incomprehensible grammer and syntax, forget about anything remotely idiomatic. All of these problems and errors are rampant in manuals in addition to just plain badly written instructions.

It can also take time to learn all about complex devices and people don't have a lot of patience. They don't want to learn one function at a time. They want to know everything all at once. They also don't want to actually study anything. They expect everything to be spoonfed and easy.

And then there's the multifunctionality of things like computers which are never really intended for any one user to use ALL functions. Instead they are designed so that almost everyone can use them for SOMETHING, but not necessarily for EVERYTHING.



Link Posted: 3/6/2006 12:17:21 PM EDT
Yep, most people refuse to RTFM. I usually refer to it. Most nowadays have a 'quickstart' or 'getting started' card.

I swear, you'd need to print a poster sized PICTORIAL step by step guide for most people, though.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 12:30:28 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 4:13:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Galland:
It isn't entirely the problem of stupid people. Sometimes manufacturers cram too many features in a product. The same is true of software. Remember the personal messaging program called ICQ? I stopped using it because it was so "good" that I couldn't find the features I wanted. They were (assuming they still existed in the last version I installed) buried in a sea of menus and sub-menus that I didn't need. Even reading the docs didn't help. ICQ was a classic example of something with too many features for its own good.



Yep I hate bloatware.

I use trillian now, gets all of the major IM programs and you only have to mess with the one program instead of all of the others.
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 4:26:30 PM EDT
Yeah! Look at cars! Especally if you've got a manual transmission. You gotta shift, use the clutch, brake, gas pedal, change radio stations/CDs, give the finger to the person that just cut infront of you, etc etc. a
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 4:37:30 PM EDT
Cell phones really drive me nuts in this regard. I'm not a technical lightweight by any means. Hell I've been helping program VCR's since I was 8, but I can see bullshit for what it is.

Company wants to stay ahead of other phone companies. They can do this one of two ways: Improve the service and make better cell phones, or load the same cell phone with tons of extra features that look good for advertising and getting attention. Guess which one is cheaper to do. That's right. Putting a camera and color display and ringtones and music and other useless doo-dads into the phone to make the customer THINK they're getting something more, is much more cost effective than engineering a better cell system and better phones to improve coverage and sound quality.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck with a new phone which doesn't work any better than my old phone at doing the one main thing it's designed for: BEING A PHONE!
Link Posted: 3/6/2006 6:05:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PromptCritical:
Cell phones really drive me nuts in this regard. I'm not a technical lightweight by any means. Hell I've been helping program VCR's since I was 8, but I can see bullshit for what it is.

Company wants to stay ahead of other phone companies. They can do this one of two ways: Improve the service and make better cell phones, or load the same cell phone with tons of extra features that look good for advertising and getting attention. Guess which one is cheaper to do. That's right. Putting a camera and color display and ringtones and music and other useless doo-dads into the phone to make the customer THINK they're getting something more, is much more cost effective than engineering a better cell system and better phones to improve coverage and sound quality.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck with a new phone which doesn't work any better than my old phone at doing the one main thing it's designed for: BEING A PHONE!



Right into the X-ring with this one.
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