–Steve Tengler is Altia’s User Experience Director. He’s also a proud Wolverine.–
Yesterday I happened to be on The University of Michigan’s engineering campus in Ann Arbor, MI, for the IBM Symposium, which was not only a great chance to how successful companies like General Motors and Visteon have used IBM’s tools (and Altia) to provide winning software solutions but it was also a chance for me to wander down memory lane. North campus! GO BLUE! It was a moment of pride until …
… I decided for laughs to try my old User ID in the campus computer. Yeah, yeah. I know: two decades have past. When I was last on North Campus, they asked us to try this new thing called “e-mail”, which my theatre-major girlfriend ridiculed by asking, “So wait, it’s a way for engineers to communicate? Hmmm … sounds geeky.” So, no, I wasn’t expecting my password to work, but I was expecting something better than this:
I have three basic problems with this Human-Machine Interface:
- POOR USER DIRECTION: Where do I go from here? I click on “OK”, but what if I’m not OK? What if I want a different outcome? Was it my ID, or has my password expired? This is when users punch whatever screen in frustration because they don’t know how to fix the problem.
- POLYSYLLABIC, SUPERFLOUS LANGUAGE: Who says “The parameter is incorrect”? No seriously. No one talks like that unless your name is Eugene and you’re debating in your chat room whether flannel and Members Only jackets will come back in style. Users need simple, common language.
- ODD PICTURE: What message are they trying to convey with a brick wall behind the screen. “None shall pass!” OK, OK … I get it. You can never go back. I’m old, and I’m blocked out. But putting a brick wall there seems like piling on, Eugene.
So kudos, Michigan, for creating an engineer that can create an engineer that can analyze Human-Machine Interfaces and provide expert advice, but … well … now that you’ve read this, I only have one question for you: