When Things Go Wrong – or – I Am Not Monkey-Proof

If you don’t look around, you cannot see the mistakes you make… ayyy.

Alright, people who are subscribing to my blog have noticed some strange blog-updates on this page yesterday and earlier today. And this is one of the examples where the problem is in-between the screen and the chair. And I am totally debit to that, which actually makes a nice new subject, but not only that, also a nice introduction to another blog I run.

But first of all… let’s talk usability. As you know, I have my experience and education in usability. When I am asked to help on a project, I will bring this knowledge to the table where it might or might not be implemented or used for testing purposes. Sometimes, because of budget or time restraints, certain recommendations are not implemented, but I try to do my job as well as I can.

But, this doesn’t mean that I am a usability guru. I mean, that I practice what I preach in personal life. Just like an M.D. makes the most horrible patient, I am not a good case-study for usability myself. Design and building it, sure… but being a perfect user? Hardly. Once I don’t have my work-hat on, I am not always paying attention to everything. So… this is also how I had problems to figure out how exactly to use the easiness of running two blogs in WordPress could also compromise the effectiveness. And I fell for it right away.

Besides my IT company, I also own a photo studio. It is small, and finally we are making the step of moving into a new location, having two studio’s on the premise instead of one, with parking spots in a nice historic area of the quaint town of Yardley, PA.

To prepare for moving, it was about time to do a bit more of social networking, so, a new Facebook page was created and I also started a new blog, showcasing some of our work and behind the screens information. It is not something amazing, we are not looking to become huge, but just to show some pride in our work that we love to do.

So, when it all was finally set up, I started posting. Which is no problem when you first select the blog you are posting to. It makes perfect sense at that moment. Until you notice the even easier to use ‘home page’ posting, which is simple, not a lot of content, and you just upload the photo and you are done.

Yeah.

Right.

It took me a while to notice the little icon in the bottom of the page mentioning I was updating this blog, instead of my Cantanopy Photography blog. And since with every post an email is being sent out, all my faithful followers received some photos as updates in the wrong blog.

Alright, nothing really weird was going on, they are just a mixture of urban and scenery shots and model shots, but still, I apologize for spamming each an every one’s mailbox.

But this shows a couple of simple weird usability design choices. For example, the link to this quick-posting was offered in the photography blog which got me under the impression I would still be posting to that blog. The other thing was that the blog that I was actually posting to was mentioned in the bottom of the page, even underneath the ‘publish’ button. Which, by usability standards, mean it is less important information than the posting itself. If this information would be provided at the top of the page, a user would notice this first.

It is easy to blame WordPress, and I would like to. But I can’t. The reason why? Not everything in life is driving on making everything fool-proof. Sure, these are some weird design choices, and might have been completely overlooked. Still, you may expect a user also to bring something of  ‘expertise’ in usage to the table. For example, that a user first looks at the mere 4 elements in the page before clicking like a mad monkey.

I remember, one time long ago when I was still attending the academy, that I made an interface system that should be extremely simple to use. There were three buttons on the screen, shaped like cones. Nothing else. And the screen mentioned you should click one of the buttons. To test it out, I asked my mother, who had no clue whatsoever in usage of computers back in the day, to test it. And I was so sure it would work. Literally, three buttons and the text that you had to click on of them.

It did not work.

Was this my mistake? To be honest, yes. The reason why is that I should have thought before picking my test subject. ‘clicking’ on a button on a screen is easy as pie for people who already worked with computers, knew what a ‘click’ was, and how a mouse worked. My mother had no experience in all of this. So although I thought I came with the most simple interface, I learned one of the biggest lessons in usability: know your audience. An interface running on a computer by default has an audience of people who can use a computer. Just like that when you invent a new interface for the driver in a car, you expect them to be a qualified driver and that they know how the acceleration, gears and steering wheel work.

WordPress may absolutely demand the expectation that I know how a web-page works and that if there are, in a box about posting, 4 elements, that I read them.

So, even though that simple posting has a usability design issue, this mistake was completely on me.

STILLLLLLLL….

I hope you enjoyed the photos, and would like to invite you also over to our blog for Cantanopy Photography at http://blog.cantanopy.com and also subscribe. I will try to post new photos every day which will be anything from what we have material off, mostly detail shots and model shots. And please, like it too…

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