January 1, 2007

the end-user manifesto

Danny V. sent me this manifesto, however it came without a URL:

The End-User Manifesto

Things that need to be in the mind of anyone building software, particularly for the Web.

1. Don't waste my time.

2. Help me do the right thing.

3. Respect my decisions.

4. Design well, and guide me to make the right decisions by that design.

5. Don't lie to me - if I see something in front of me, then I should be able to act on it unless the interface tells me I can't.

5.1. If I see a text area, I expect to be able to type as much as that text area holds.
Scrollbars indicate to me that it is bigger than can be displayed in the space available, and I'm ok with that up to a point.

If there's a character limit, show me that by stopping me from typing past a certain point.mIf there are limits on the types of characters I can enter, tell me that before I move on to something else.

6. Keep your pop-ups to yourself. The only thing that's helpful in a pop-up format is your help system, where I can learn something without losing my place.

7. Advertising.

7.1. I have music, thanks. No sound effects or music with your advertisements, if you must have them.

7.2. No flashing colors, mini-videos, strobing effects, blinking idiot cartoons, or anything else that's the equivalent of yelling at me.

7.3. Don't confuse loud with appropriate. Google appears to understand context and content, and shows things that are SOMEHOW RELATED to what I'm doing. No, I will never want a mortgage from you.

8. Get to the point. Put the focus of your page on what I'm looking there to learn, not on someone else's advertising with your information hidden below the flashing duck.

9. I can print things without your assistance. When I click on "Printer-friendly", I really just want a page of the text I'm interested in saving to my computer without the blinking advertisements.

10. W3C standards compliance. How I get to your site is my decision. No, I'm not buying a specific type of computer just to fill out your form because you decided that ActiveX components were the quick way out of the development cycle. If you're going to be Web-based, then attempt to understand that the Web is not yours.

11. Test your stuff. I'm not your employee, and you're not paying me to test your site or your software. Please re-read 1-4 above.

12. Please also proof-read what you've written, or have someone else do so.

13. Keep the noise level lower by not using animated graphics to illustrate your mood, or plug you into social networks. Yes, kids in junior high think it's cute, but it gets very old very quickly.

14. Tell me a compelling story. This applies to weblogs, corporate sites, fan sites, any site. I'm visiting you to learn something, even if it's just a good story about something you're selling or the day you had. Good stories inspire conversations, and markets are built on those.

Thanks, Danny!

[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.] [Manifesto archive is here.]

Posted by hugh macleod at January 1, 2007 6:33 AM | TrackBack

This is a great list, and as an avid web user, I would agree with every point. However a few points are tinged with the color of "experience". As a developer, I am often forced to program to the lowest-common denominator, and that can result in a few things that more experienced users can do without (like pop up boxes). Perhaps, not the lowest common denominator, but a lower one than I'd like. And as often as I fight for this manifesto, I am sometimes over-ruled by superiors whose forte is NOT the internet. Such is the corporate life.

Posted by: Mark G at February 1, 2007 4:27 PM