Mouse mastery (was: Whats the proper name for motor memory withininteraction?)

21 Nov 2006 - 1:09pm
729 reads
John Schrag

Lisa deBettencourt wrote:
> There have been quite a number of tests done with older populations
> where they've found that the computer/keyboard/mouse design isn't
> intuitive, but learned. They've seen people have pick up the mouse and

> hold it in the air wondering what it does.

Adrian Howard replied:
> Yup. I remember helping out with an adult education course in the late
> eighties when a (bright) business studies teacher hadn't encountered a
> mouse before. We ended up taking the mouse apart and poking the
> with a biro before she was comfortable with how it worked :-)

I was studying computer-human interaction at the University of Toronto
when the mouse was first shipped on the Lisa. I remember sitting in a
classroom watching a videotape of someone from Apple holding up a mouse
and explaining the concept as if to small children. (I also remember
thinking "what a stupid name, it'll never catch on.") When I finally
had a chance to try one, I found I could quickly but not instantaneously
master it.

In the many years I've done of usability testing since then, I've
noticed that there are a few 'tiers' of mouse-usage. Some people (whose
whole computer experience is using the web) have no trouble pointing and
clicking, but never think to use the right mouse button. And others
who readily click with both left and right mouse buttons are completely
flummoxed when it comes to clicking and dragging. They don't even use
the word "dragging"; typically when they figure it out they say
something like "Oh, you click but you have to keep holding down the
mouse button!"

It was interesting to me recently watching the tutorial movies for
Google Sketchup, and seeing how much time they spent on the concept of
dragging with the mouse. I bet that showed up in their usability


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