Saturday, June 9, 2007

State of the art user interfaces

not what you expect..

installing the new HP Colo(u)r Laserjet 2840 at work on the weekend, must say I'm very impressed with the effort they've put into the the user interface of their....packaging.

Yes thats right, the packaging.  when the box sits on the floor there's a very obvious line of sticky tape holding the top flaps together, it affords cutting the tape as the obvious first step. Ok no rocket science here yet right?

when you open the flaps, the first thing you see is diagrams (& instructions in 5 asian languages, lose marks for no english)instructing you how to continue. Oh look, the little man is popping out those plastic things on the side, I wonder what that's about..? Oh look! if you pop them out then the sides and top of the box detach and lift off!  (I hope someone makes a packet from that patent, they deserve it.)

Now you've got the printer sitting on the floor on the box base. sticky-taped to the top of the printer is a sheet warning you to run the install  CD before plugging the printer in. oops! that's right, the little man on the box did that before he lifted the printer safely with another colleague. I'd better dig up the manual that i threw to the side and see what that's all about...

See? good user interfaces aren't that hard!! If a printer box can afford it's use, surely your hugely expensive enterprise application (or even that cool little utility that makes life easier) can afford it's use. It's as simple as making the following step as obvious as possible, and allowing for people to be lazy (not necessarily stupid, but the two can be hard to separate sometimes) and need reminding about the right way to do things, and the occasional polite reminder if they're not doing what they should be.

Kudos HP, your packaging team deserve a bonus. Let's hope that the rest of the package is as easy to setup.

I hate configuring printers, it always seems like black magic and secret incantations...

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