[Video] What Babies Can Teach Tech Developers

I found this video fascinating not because the baby doesn’t grok how to use the magazine (or that Steve Jobs has somehow coded her OS – bleh!), but because of her preconceived notions about how it should work. Once she is exposed to the iPad she expects every tablet-like thing to behave like it does and when it doesn’t she has a negative reaction to it. This is a fundamental lesson for every developer.

I’ve seen a similar reaction from my 2yo son. His older brother was competently using a mouse and keyboard from age 2. However my youngest one refuses to learn. He’s been brought up using a tablet, which has a much more intuitive interface. It makes sense to him to interact with the computer through the screen rather than through the mouse and keyboard. When he does use the PC he still tries to touch the screen even though he has learnt it achieves nothing (other than a stern reminder to not touch the screen from his parents).

This is a very important consideration for tech developers. If you’re creating something that looks similar to a pre-existing product then you need to be aware that users are going to expect it to behave in a similar manner. This is why people often have difficulty moving between operating systems (phones, religions, politics, etc), and why they can often become very resistant to change. To them their existing way is the RIGHT way to do it.

What this means is that you need to mimic the behaviour of the existing product or provide a fundamentally better user experience (improved user interface, detail education programme, etc). It’s not enough to be a little bit better. You need to be much better.

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

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Post Under Business, Tech, Video October 17, 2011

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