Technomasochism: Do Users Like Pain? (01 Oct 2004)
Two conclusions can be drawn from these brief case studies. Firstly, users are willing to endure some learning (or pain) to overcome seemingly unusable applications if a perceived benefit (or gain) exists at the end over using a similar but lower barrier application. This benefit may be directly related to their needs or may be one they were not aware of. Thus, it's important to communicate exactly what the gain is before asking the user to invest time.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, users that have overcome the hurdles of a difficult application may wear their achievements as a badge of honour. Changes to the interface in the future must take this into consideration. Lowering the barrier may cause some negative backlash with the existing community (e.g., AutoCAD's initial move towards more of a WIMP interface). Laterally changing the interface to a similar difficulty level would equally frustrate the existing user base who have spent the time to learn the original interface.
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