Effectance in Games and Applications (24 Jan 2004)
Take complex Real Time Strategy games such as Warcraft or Rise of Nations. Your first level involves a very rudimentary set of units and a fairly straight forward mission. By the end of the game, you're utilizing a full technology tree with a plethora of special abilities and units at your disposal without feeling overwhelmed.
Applications such as MS Word have started to use this idea but they haven't quite got there. You open Word and the most immediate thing you can do is type. That's a good step in making me feel effective. Then I can bold my characters and change my font when I notice the toolbar. Beyond that, however, lies a maze of functionality where the gradual learning stops. For Word, the problem is not knowing what the user needs to do. That's the problem with having a one-size-fits-all application that contains the kitchen sink.
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