Android and my 70 Year Old Dad
My take on how our learning curve depends upon our attitude.
Within a few minutes of putting dad’s SIM card in the new smartphone, it rang.
“Why am I not able to receive calls?”, dad said irritatingly.
I replied, “you need to drag that button on the right side, and then drop”.
It required some training till he could manage it himself.
Then he says, “why this smartphone is so complicated. Receiving calls on my basic Nokia phone (still, remember them :)) was simpler”.
I explained that “in the touch screen phones, to ensure that phone is not received while manhandling, you need to make this special gesture.”
He sighed and realized that he had no other option but to make peace with this. A few minutes later, there was another call.
“See see, there is another button to receive calls on a single click. It doesn’t require any dragging”, he said while indicating this to me.
Dad had a point! He just caught usability issue in Android.
Our smartphones are unnecessarily oversmart!
Being from the software background, this incident (and many such after that) gave me some food for thought.
Like the coin has two sides, so does every story. In this case, we could say that Android is over engineered, hence extra complicated. Perhaps they need to take a minimalist approach and wave off features which are just over-burden.
Another side could be that dad has not yet unlearned how he operated basic Nokia phone. Perhaps that’s natural given to his age (touch wood).
Understanding user behaviours have utmost importance in the software design and architecture. We mainly categorize users as Pragmatic and Early Adopters.
Just like my dad, same is the case with the most of the users who are switching from one older business software to the latest one. No matter how beautiful, usable and feature rich new software is, most users would find it to be inefficient and slow. Turns out, that’s not always true.
It’s actually user’s mind set, or if I could say mind block, because they are so used to the earlier system where they could post entries even in the sub-conscious mode (really!). With the new system introduces, they have to unlearn the older system, and make extra efforts to accustom yourself the new system.
But once they see that many people around them are using that application, it becomes just obvious for them, and then they crack it very easily.
Introducing Nauman (for the nth time), my 2.5-year-old son. No matter how many password and security locks I applied on the YouTube app, he was able to bypass them all by switching the User profile itself.
In the new profile, there were no restrictions to access any application. He would happily tune in his favourite “Twinkle Twinkle” rhyme using Google’s voice command (in his stammering voice). Heck of an early adopter. Isn’t he?
Early Adopters love exploring new stuff. Trying out new thing is not a job for them, but a fun activity. Before clicking on that button, they don’t think too aloud that it might break things. If at all it does (which is rare), they are open to taking responsibility.
Just try to recollect how did you get around your first Android (or any other smart) phone? Which classes did you attend to learn it? Was there a trainer to assist you in navigating around? I know your answer. It’s a big NO.
So why is that you need a class room training before touching a new business application? Both Android and business app are the software after all. Just like you have earned mastery in the smartphones by giving it a try, it takes just the same attitude towards business application as well. If you are too scared to break companies main account, just ask they software vendor to give you a trial account, and break everything possible in it.
Dad, don’t go close to that dangerous app. It’s called WhatsApp.
Dad NO! WAIT, Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee.
I am dead.
Umair is Frappe's co-founder, VP - Partnerships, and mentor for Frappe School team.