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Option Play : Software developers simply baffle users when they give them too much choice. (04 Oct 2004)
One of the things that mark me as an ubergeek power user is my willingness to systematically identify and explore all of these various configuration screens and controls. I like to think of myself as a highly skilled programmer, but what makes me useful to my friends is my willingness to customize their systems by checking off the right boxes in the preference panels. Itís not exactly virtuoso coding, but itís a skill that is becoming increasingly valuable.

Thatís because preference panels are standard fare now, not just on computer software but on printers, fax machines, cell phones, video cameras, and in-car navigation systems. My friend recently bought an electric range and was amused to find a preference panel that let him switch the language between English, Spanish, and French-and the temperature display from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

In the long run, true usability will come when we learn how to write software that needs less configuration, not more.
Article URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/04/10/garfinkel1004.asp

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