RE: Ease-of-use: Efficiency vs Intuitiveness

29 Nov 2004 - 10:01am
9 years ago
23 replies
501 reads
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dan Saffer writes:

>As Lada pointed out, a
>system can be effective without being efficient.

And it *cannot* be efficient without being effective.

If you're doing the wrong thing, it doesn't matter how fast you're doing
it. You're not efficient.

Elizabeth, who maintains that the only intuitive interface is the nipple
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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Comments

29 Nov 2004 - 10:26am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Nov 29, 2004, at 10:01 AM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

>> As Lada pointed out, a
>> system can be effective without being efficient.
>
> And it *cannot* be efficient without being effective.
>
> If you're doing the wrong thing, it doesn't matter how fast you're
> doing
> it. You're not efficient.

I can see where you're coming from and I mostly agree with it, but I
think we're really going to mess with the heads of our usability and
business pals by equating the term "efficiency" with "effectiveness."
(Not that they don't occasionally need their heads messed with, but...)

How about we move away from efficient and effective and instead use the
term "optimized" (from the Reimann/Forlizzi definition of interaction
design as "optimizing machine behaviors")? Optimized seems to speak to
both of these things, allowing for the most effective and efficient use
of user and system resources.

>
> the only intuitive interface is the nipple
>

Hey now, it's still early in the morning! :)

Dan

29 Nov 2004 - 10:32am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dan Saffer wrote, in response to a comment of mine:

<<I can see where you're coming from and I mostly agree with it, but I
think we're really going to mess with the heads of our usability and
business pals by equating the term "efficiency" with "effectiveness.">>

I'm not equating them at all. I'm merely saying that you have to have
effectiveness before you can have efficiency.

In fact, ISO 9241-11 ("Guidance on Usability") says exactly that.

It defines efficiency as resources expended *with respect to
effectiveness*. Ergo, low effectiveness results in low efficiency.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 2:30pm
Listera
2004

Elizabeth Buie:

> If you're doing the wrong thing, it doesn't matter how fast you're doing
> it. You're not efficient.

And if you are efficient, aren't you also, by definition, effective?

> Elizabeth, who maintains that the only intuitive interface is the nipple

Other body parts precede that. :-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

29 Nov 2004 - 2:39pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Ziya wrote:

>And if you are efficient, aren't you also, by definition, effective?

That's just what I said: "It cannot be efficient without being
effective."

>> Elizabeth, who maintains that the only intuitive interface is the
nipple
>
>Other body parts precede that. :-)

Not for the baby. :-)

I contend that the nipple is a baby's first encounter with an interaction
device that requires some conscious action on his or her part.

(Somehow I knew you'd comment on that note, Ziya. :-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 2:49pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> I contend that the nipple is a baby's first encounter with an
> interaction device that requires some conscious action on his
> or her part.

It is also quite clear that a nipple is pre-conscious, in that it is not
intuitive, but rather inate, or instinct. A baby leaves the womb suckling
w/o or w/o the presense of the nipple. AND the quite often the baby's eyes
are closed, so it is not a visual response.

I think there needs to be a difference between inate and intuitive.

- dave

29 Nov 2004 - 2:59pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 29, 2004, at 11:49 AM, David Heller wrote:

>> I contend that the nipple is a baby's first encounter with an
>> interaction device that requires some conscious action on his
>> or her part.
>
> It is also quite clear that a nipple is pre-conscious, in that it is
> not
> intuitive, but rather inate, or instinct. A baby leaves the womb
> suckling
> w/o or w/o the presense of the nipple. AND the quite often the baby's
> eyes
> are closed, so it is not a visual response.

Ok... It must be close to the Holidays. You guys are talking crazy.

Deep breath everyone. It's just a nipple.

Andrei

29 Nov 2004 - 2:57pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

David Heller wrote:

<<It is also quite clear that a nipple is pre-conscious, in that it is not
intuitive, but rather inate [sic], or instinct.>>

That's my point. What some of us are calling "intuitive" does not exist.
What we mean when we say that is that someone can identify how to use
something without having to think overmuch about it. Which means that we
can use knowledge we already have. In other words, the thing is familiar.
(As Josh pointed out last week, and as Jef Raskin wrote years ago.)

<<AND the quite often the baby's eyes
are closed, so it is not a visual response.>>

The visual quality, or lack thereof, is irrelevant.

I do not use "intuitive" to describe an object.
There is no such thing.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 3:05pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 29 Nov 2004, at 19:39, Elizabeth Buie wrote:
>>> Elizabeth, who maintains that the only intuitive interface is the
> nipple
>>
>> Other body parts precede that. :-)
>
> Not for the baby. :-)
>
> I contend that the nipple is a baby's first encounter with an
> interaction
> device that requires some conscious action on his or her part.

I'm not sure it's conscious interaction, but I think you're spot on to
say it's intuitive. Interestingly you could argue that a babies own
legs aren't intuitive to use - it takes a year or more for them to work
out how to use those!

--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
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passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the
patient labors of peace.
- Andre Gide, 1869 - 1951

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29 Nov 2004 - 3:11pm
Narey, Kevin
2004

>Elizabeth, who maintains that the only intuitive interface is the nipple

I'll never look at the Amazon 'one click' button in the same way again.....

The ensuing thread has given me some interesting flashbacks to academic work
on how bee's are 'naturally/inherently' conditioned to go about their daily
existence without any semblance of intuition. Hey ho.

Kevin

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29 Nov 2004 - 3:19pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Kevin Narey writes:

>I'll never look at the Amazon 'one click' button in the same way
again....

That could be a good thing...

:-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 4:11pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Ah! You are saying something a bit off to me (anthropologist here).

But I think from a cognitive perspective the stuff that Donald Norman talks
about in terms of affordances is very interesting.

I was going to ask him this on OK-Cancel but keep forgetting. Can a digital
system every truly be an affordance, but because digital systems are too new
to be have that level of cultural awareness to be generalized like that.

But I do think that intuition is somewhere between inate/instinct and
learned. And htat this distinction which is feeling a bit arbitrary does
have some merit. And maybe the conscious aspect of it is the distinguisher
worth thinking about in terms of designing interactions.

-- dave

29 Nov 2004 - 4:16pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dave Heller writes:

>And maybe the conscious aspect of it is the distinguisher...

I think I'd say "intentional" rather than "conscious".

Still, I reject the notion of an "intuitive" object.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 4:18pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dave Heller writes:

>I do think that intuition is somewhere between inate[sic]/instinct and
>learned.

Name something that can be used without any previous relevant knowledge.
It doesn't have to be learning *of that thing*, but it's learning of
something similar enough to facilitate transfer of that learning.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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29 Nov 2004 - 5:36pm
George Schneiderman
2004

> That's my point. What some of us are calling "intuitive" does not exist.
> What we mean when we say that is that someone can identify how to use
> something without having to think overmuch about it. Which means that we
> can use knowledge we already have. In other words, the thing is familiar.
> (As Josh pointed out last week, and as Jef Raskin wrote years ago.)

> I do not use "intuitive" to describe an object.
> There is no such thing.

Intuitive: "Of, relating to, or arising from intuition"
WordNet gives 2 definitions of intuition:
(1) "instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)"
(2) "an impression that something might be the case; "he had an intuition that something had gone wrong"

I submit that Jef, Josh, Elizabeth, and others object to the application of the word "intuitive" to interfaces because they have in mind the first definition, with its emphasis on the instinctive. But I would suggest that the common application of the word "intuitive" to interfaces has more to do with the latter definition. Perhaps a better word would be "guessable", but try running that one by a marketing or business person. In common usage, people characterize an interface as "intuitive" if they can readily figure it out with little or no training, by drawing upon thier prior knowledge of the world, including their prior knowlege of similar interfaces. Maybe "intuitable" would be better for this purpose, but while I may use it within our professional community, I am not going to try to fight the tide when it comes to the larger context of software development. Why try to fight that semantic battle, when there is already a word out there that represents the concept in people's minds? I don't see the point.

On a related note, I'm not at all convinced that there is a simple equation between "familiar" and "intuitive" (or "intuitable" if you prefer) as the latter term is commonly used. Something that is familiar may be readily "intuitable", but so may something that is less familiar. I'm sure that there is a relationship, but I very much suspect that familiarity is only one element contributing to an interface's "intuiableness" for a particular person.

--George Schneiderman

PS I would actually go one step farther, and argue that it is not unreasonable to apply even the word "instinctive" to certain computer-related behaviors. Because while "instinct" can mean "An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli", it can also mean, "A powerful motivation or impulse". For example, using a mouse is clearly not an instinctive behavior in the sense of that first definition. But I would argue that clicking OK to get rid of a dialog box defintiely can be an intinctive behavior in the sense of the second definition. If I click "OK" in response to a dialog box asking, "Delete all my files?", and explain that doing so was an instinctive reaction, then I think most "computer literate" people would immediately know what I meant by that.

29 Nov 2004 - 8:13pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

> I was going to ask him this on OK-Cancel but keep forgetting. Can a digital
> system every truly be an affordance, but because digital systems are too new
> to be have that level of cultural awareness to be generalized like that.

It's probably useful to note that the 'Don' has updated published on
affordances after "The Psychology of Everyday Things" and that he
re-casted what many of us are calling 'affordances' (i.e., perceptual
properties that suggest possible use) as 'conventions'.

'Conventions' are learnable. Some exist (like rounded, shadowed forms
suggest push buttons), and many things may never get to the level of
convention because for many things designers favour innovation over
staying the course. The perceptual properties of objects don't stay
static for long enough to become conventions.

(It is questionable whether all of this innovation serves the *use* of
products, though it generally does serve their aesthetic appeal well.)

This term 'convention' is *much* better than affordances for this purpose.

Regards,
-Gerard

Reference:

Norman, D.A. (1999). Affordance, conventions, and design.
_Interactions_ , _6_, 3 (May 1999).

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

29 Nov 2004 - 9:07pm
Listera
2004

Gerard Torenvliet:

> This term 'convention' is *much* better than affordances for this purpose.

That's an understatement. Now if we can scrap "faceted" from the lexicon
too, I'd sure have a merry XMas.:-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

30 Nov 2004 - 9:18am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

George Schneiderman writes (quoting me):

<<> I do not use "intuitive" to describe an object.
> There is no such thing.

Intuitive: "Of, relating to, or arising from intuition"
WordNet gives 2 definitions of intuition:
(1) "instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)"
(2) "an impression that something might be the case; "he had an intuition
that something had gone wrong">>

I didn't say there was no such thing as "intuitive" or "intuition". I
said there was no such thing as an inherently intuitive object.

A person may be intuitive.

An object may not.

IMNERHO.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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30 Nov 2004 - 9:39am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

George Schneiderman writes:

<<If I click "OK" in response to a dialog box asking, "Delete all my
files?", and explain that doing so was an instinctive reaction, then I
think most "computer literate" people would immediately know what I meant
by that.>>

They probably would, but it would still be incorrect usage.

>From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instinct):

"Instinct is the word used to describe inherent dispositions towards
particular actions. Instincts are generally an inherited pattern of
responses or reactions to certain kinds of situations. In humans, they are
most easily observed in responses to emotions. Instincts generally serve
to set in motion mechanisms that evoke an organism to action. The
particular actions performed may be influenced by learning, environments,
and natural principles. Generally, instinct is not used to describe an
existing condition or established state."

I think it would be more correct to call that behavior "automatic" or
"unconscious", or even "ingrained": It has become so much a part of you
that you automatically do it without considering. But it is not
*instinct*.

Now, I'm not arguing that we shouldn't use "instinctive" colloquially to
describe such behavior. When used informally, it describes quite well
what we are talking about. But when we are wearing our professional hats
we should strive to be more precise in our language; it's a matter of
*terminology*, which is quite different from the vernacular. We have no
business misusing words such as "instinct" or "intuition" in our
profession.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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30 Nov 2004 - 10:06am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

George Schneiderman writes:

<<Intuitive: "Of, relating to, or arising from intuition"
WordNet gives 2 definitions of intuition:
(1) "instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)"
(2) "an impression that something might be the case; "he had an intuition
that something had gone wrong"

I submit that Jef, Josh, Elizabeth, and others object to the application
of the word "intuitive" to interfaces because they have in mind the first
definition, with its emphasis on the instinctive.>>

I can't speak for Jef or Josh, but for me that's not the crux of the
matter. My objections are just as strong -- well, OK, *almost* as strong
:-) -- if we consider the second definition. Especially because such
impressions are generally called "intuitions" if you cannot say on what
information or deductions they are based. Both of these definitions
involve "knowing without recognizing *how* you know".

I maintain that this property, "intuitive", cannot be assigned to the
*object*. (I'm not splitting semantic hairs here between "intuitive" and
"intuitable"; for the sake of argument, let's accept "intuitive" as a
substitute for "intuitable" or "guessable".) I'm saying that the use of
intuition to understand how to use an object (which I fully accept)
depends not only on the object but also on the user(s), the purposes of
the object, the context of use, and possibly other things as well.

If something were truly intuitive, no one would ever have trouble using
it, even without having previously seen it or anything like it.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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George Schneiderman <schneidg
@earthlink.net>
Sent by: discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces
11/29/04 05:36 PM
Please respond to George Schneiderman

To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
cc:
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] RE: Ease-of-use: Efficiency vs
Intuitiveness

Intuitive: "Of, relating to, or arising from intuition"
WordNet gives 2 definitions of intuition:
(1) "instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)"
(2) "an impression that something might be the case; "he had an intuition
that something had gone wrong"

I submit that Jef, Josh, Elizabeth, and others object to the application
of the word "intuitive" to interfaces because they have in mind the first
definition, with its emphasis on the instinctive. But I would suggest
that the common application of the word "intuitive" to interfaces has more
to do with the latter definition. Perhaps a better word would be
"guessable", but try running that one by a marketing or business person.
In common usage, people characterize an interface as "intuitive" if they
can readily figure it out with little or no training, by drawing upon
thier prior knowledge of the world, including their prior knowlege of
similar interfaces. Maybe "intuitable" would be better for this purpose,
but while I may use it within our professional community, I am not going
to try to fight the tide when it comes to the larger context of software
development. Why try to fight that semantic battle, when there is already
a word out there that represents the concept in people's minds? I don't
see the point.

On a related note, I'm not at all convinced that there is a simple
equation between "familiar" and "intuitive" (or "intuitable" if you
prefer) as the latter term is commonly used. Something that is familiar
may be readily "intuitable", but so may something that is less familiar.
I'm sure that there is a relationship, but I very much suspect that
familiarity is only one element contributing to an interface's
"intuiableness" for a particular person.

--George Schneiderman

PS I would actually go one step farther, and argue that it is not
unreasonable to apply even the word "instinctive" to certain
computer-related behaviors. Because while "instinct" can mean "An inborn
pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a
response to specific environmental stimuli", it can also mean, "A powerful
motivation or impulse". For example, using a mouse is clearly not an
instinctive behavior in the sense of that first definition. But I would
argue that clicking OK to get rid of a dialog box defintiely can be an
intinctive behavior in the sense of the second definition. If I click
"OK" in response to a dialog box asking, "Delete all my files?", and
explain that doing so was an instinctive reaction, then I think most
"computer literate" people would immediately know what I meant by that.
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30 Nov 2004 - 10:11am
George Schneiderman
2004

> Now, I'm not arguing that we shouldn't use "instinctive" colloquially
> to
> describe such behavior. When used informally, it describes quite well
> what we are talking about. But when we are wearing our professional
> hats
> we should strive to be more precise in our language; it's a matter of
> *terminology*, which is quite different from the vernacular. We have
> no
> business misusing words such as "instinct" or "intuition" in our
> profession.

When you're talking about publishing in an academic context,
particularly for an audience that includes cognitive scientists or
psychologists, then I agree that one should generally use terms like
"instinct" and "intuition" in the precise way that academics in those
domains use them.

But when you are talking about a business environment, where you are
dealing with the development of real-world systems, I don't see
anything wrong with using such terms in accordance with generally
accepted usage, even when this departs from academic norms.
Incidentally, I don't agree that this constitutes "misusing" such
words; academics don't have a monopoly on words which are part of the
vernacular.

To my mind, discussion with other interaction design professionals
*SHOULD* straddle the worlds of academia and business, and as such
should provide room for both more formal discussion and more vernacular
discussion.

--George

30 Nov 2004 - 10:23am
Ben Hunt
2004

<George>
But when you are talking about a business environment, where you are
dealing with the development of real-world systems, I don't see anything
wrong with using such terms in accordance with generally accepted usage,
even when this departs from academic norms. Incidentally, I don't agree
that this constitutes "misusing" such words; academics don't have a
monopoly on words which are part of the vernacular.
</George>

I totally agree with you George.

When medical professionals get together to discuss their work, it's
really important that they use correct, accurate language.

But when I sit down with my doctor, she needs to diagnose my problems
and discuss treatment in language that I can most easily accept. She
needs to use the most appropriate langauge, which is like speaking two
languages.

- Ben

30 Nov 2004 - 10:29am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

But we are speaking among ourselves as professionals here. Unless I
missed something, we weren't talking about explaining something to people
who don't know the terminology.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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"Ben Hunt" <ben
@scratchmedia.co.uk>
11/30/04 10:23 AM

To: "'George Schneiderman'" <schneidg at earthlink.net>,
Elizabeth Buie/CIV/CSC at CSC
cc: <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] RE: Ease-of-use: Efficiency vs
Intuitiveness

<George>
But when you are talking about a business environment, where you are
dealing with the development of real-world systems, I don't see anything
wrong with using such terms in accordance with generally accepted usage,
even when this departs from academic norms. Incidentally, I don't agree
that this constitutes "misusing" such words; academics don't have a
monopoly on words which are part of the vernacular.
</George>

I totally agree with you George.

When medical professionals get together to discuss their work, it's
really important that they use correct, accurate language.

But when I sit down with my doctor, she needs to diagnose my problems
and discuss treatment in language that I can most easily accept. She
needs to use the most appropriate langauge, which is like speaking two
languages.

- Ben

30 Nov 2004 - 10:47am
Ben Hunt
2004

<Elizabeth>
But we are speaking among ourselves as professionals here. Unless I
missed something, we weren't talking about explaining something to
people
who don't know the terminology.
</Elizabeth>

In which case, we ought to use the most correct and accurate language,
so that we're as clear as possible among ourselves.
How we relate to the commercial space is a separate question.

- Ben

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