Some things that the development community take for granted as “bleedin’ obvious” are often far from it for the end consumer.
Cue a story.
I’ll protect his identity and call him Jack. Jack is 60 and has been using the internet for a while; He’s got broadband; he banks on line, buys books on Amazon, books cheap flights with easyjet and sold his car on eBay. He considers himself internet savvy.
Not so long ago a friend castigated Jack for using Internet Explorer as his browser, and downloaded Firefox for him. Jack loved the tabbed browsing. Jack was a happy chappy.
When I was in Hong Kong, Jack thought it would be good opportunity to try out the web camera he had never used. He had Instant Messenger, and pinged me asking me if we could have a video chat. We tried to connect but couldn’t. Messenger told me he had an old version of IM and should upgrade. Jack said he thought he’d already done this – I sent him the URL and left him to it. Five minutes later he pinged me that he’d installed the new version of IM. Great I thought. I tried to connect and got the same error message – Jack was still using an old version of IM. Maybe he needed to shut down his machine… Jack disappeared for a couple of minutes and came back on line. Still the old version. Hmmm. I asked Jack to try installing it again. He came back proud of definitely having definitely installed it. We tried to start a video call:
The Video Call failed because jack is using a version of Messenger that does not support this feature.
So we went through all the steps that Jack was going through. It transpired that Jack was saving the file, but there was no call to action to actually launch it.
And there on Jacks desktop were eight saved versions of msgr8.exe.
Jack often wondered what these files on his desktop were, but assumed they were important (he hadn’t put them there, the system had) and didn’t want to open them, let alone delete them.
Was Jack’s mistake such a big one; to assume that “saving” a downloaded application was the same as installing it? In developer mind, probably. But in consumer mind? Clearly not.
We talk a lot about beginner mind / expert mind, shu ha ri… But thinking about Jack, there is another mind that needs to be considered. Consumer mind. Expert in the things I do everyday, clueless in anything beyond my immediate sphere of need or want.