sensel, on 01 February 2012 - 07:45 AM, said:
This demonstrates a number of prime examples of annoyances Apple continues to put on its users.
The system is still an obfuscatory black hole to normal people with none or some or even a mid level understanding of it (can change oil, maintain it, know the parts in a novice way but would never build it from scratch or heavily modify it).
I like the Mac and have used it for 24 years and taught design on it for 20. You can ignore the guts except for keeping it healthy with Disk Utility or third party tools. But the System is now unnecessarily un-described by Apple when it is accessible. Look, even regular people might want to do things with the System Prefs. Indeed, if Apple did not want us to, they would seal it off totally. But instead, it remains a confusing mess (except for all the nerd types who will now say I am wrong).
Then Apple does something in an OS update that changes the chemistry of this issue. Probably for the better. But instead of making it obvious, you have to know the secret to get at it. And it is not in the previous OS.
I understand what you're saying, but buried inside it I think is a little conundrum. To me your complaint is that Apple doesn't make obvious to normal users things that normal users almost by definition don't care to do anyway. I know you say "they might" but I'll counter that in my experience they *don't*. By the time a person gets to that point they're not really a novice any more and they should have the skills by that point to find out if what they want can be done and how.
I also think you're giving the built-in help system short shrift. In the past it hasn't always been especially useful, but at least since 10.6 there's been a lot of stuff in there that is, honest and for true, helpful.
One problem here: You can have absolutely stellar documentation - the best reference work in the history of the written word - and it won't matter a bit if the user doesn't read it. And, frankly, a lot of them won't; can't be bothered to double-click a read-me document. If you recognize that as a developer it's time to decide whether you're going to support those people proactively by cluttering up the interface with things that the user won't need after the first exposure or two, or support them retroactively by accepting the reality that they're going to write to you asking how to do something that's clearly documented.
Let me lay out a real-world scenario for you and see if you can identify ways to improve the user experience. I have a free product that presents a sort of heads-up display of certain system status information. The window is persistent, not transient, and translucent and it floats above document windows by default. You can click anywhere on the window and drag it around to position it. Some users, once they get it positioned, want it to be non-interactive. Clicks will pass through it (translucent, remember) to whatever happens to be underneath. Of course, at some point they may want to restore interactivity so I provide a mechanism for that as well. The method to restore interactivity is clearly described in the documentation. It is also summarized in an on-screen dialog at least the first time click-through is activated. (Future appearances of that dialog are at user discretion.) The actual mechanism, while unobtrusive, is visible on-screen at all times while click-through is active. About every other day I get a message from someone who wants to know how to disable click-through. I don't even want to get into the users who write to me furious about something "my software" did when the reality is it was a Finder or System pref that they changed themselves just days ago.