Chapter 1. Intuitive means predictable

Nikolay (unDEFER) Krivchenkov


It is often possible to hear the expression “the intuitive interface”. "Intuitive" in this case means "predictable".

In this article we will consider intuitivism of the clock interface.

In the childhood when for me digits were simple signs and did not associate with it's designated quantity, for me there was clear only mechanical clock. You can see the such clock example on the picture below.

Analog clock

Later digital clock became more clear and more convenient, and at once more intuitively. On digital clock it is impossible to mix up the hour hand and the minute hand. There is no need for "calculating" how many minutes. And nevertheless an analog clock is more predictable to some extent.

Digital clock

Certainly in the childhood I did not think about it. Only now I have started to understand why it occurred by this way. And now I will try to explain and to you too. Look at the following strange model of an analog clock, possibly, alien origins:

Alien analog clock

In spite of the fact that it is impossible to distinguish value of "figures" it is possible to be guided with such clock. The reason of this is the predictable hands movement. The hands position and not value of signs is prevailing in this clock interface. Now look at digital analogue of the same clock:

Alien digital clock

If you can be guided with this you are the real alien being :-)

You cannot read time from this clock without knowledge of values of new figures. Changing of signs becomes absolutely unpredictable, and the interface in turn absolutely not intuitive.

Now imagine that you long used clock from figure 3. You already know value of all alien figures from 1 to 12. After that, if you take watch 4, at least you can already read hours without problems.

Analog clock may be compared with the graphical interface, and digital watch with console. And unfortunately the situation in the modern interfaces reminds of the case when after clock 1, you use at once watch 4.

Graphic interface in any way does not prepare the user for more effective text interface. For preparation there is should be (and naturally it will be implemented in unDE):

  1. Always to show a command for a command line when an user chooses any option in the graphical interface.
  2. Any graphical configuration utilities links to changed with it files. It is very simple. An user should choose only file for editing, instead of configuration utility. And if this file contains, for an example, mail options the mail configuration wizard should be automatically executed. The user can always switch to the text view of the chosen file. Logo