Processes: Standards and Expectations

This can also be thought of as “Don’t innovate, unless you have to.”

Remember one of the core purposes of Infogineering to let people extract knowledge from the information as quickly as possible.

Many websites originally tried to be “creative” by inventing all sorts of weird and wonderful navigation systems. Most of these aren’t around anymore, because people understood and preferred going to sites where the navigation bar was at the top or left of the screen. They don’t have five minutes to work out where to click to get to where they want.

Our lives are made far more simpler by standards – from the AA battery, to standard light bulbs… even the English language. Often, standards don’t fit exactly what we need them to do, but they do have the advantage that people have already learned to understand them.

When you step away from a standard, you have to educate the user on how to do it your way.

There are instances where you need to innovate. These are usually because

  • There is no current standard, because you are in new territory
  • The innovation would be of such a benefit for the user that they will be willing to spend the time to understand and learn how to use it

In either case, do your best to see if an existing standard could be adapted so that people could at least have a chance at guessing what to do.

For example, when DVD players came out – they just used exactly the same symbols on their controls as CD players – which people were already familiar with.

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