App Directions

InstructionsMany times I have given the advice, “When all else fails, try reading the directions.” Perhaps I have done this too many times because humanity seems to be divided into two unchangeable groups: those who always read directions and those who never do. The never-readers are the wave of the future.

As I was learning to use my Nexus tablet, I found the apps I downloaded provided almost no directions, not even to explain the basic functions, let alone how these functions could be useful. The apps often had several unexplained icons. Sometimes by Googling the app I could find a helpful user comment, but even that was rare.

My current favorite game is Smash Hit where you throw steel balls at glass objects to clear a path.  When my 10-year-old grandson tried it, he easily beat anything I did.  This I expected.  But while in the heat of the game, he instinctively recognized an icon I did not understand, and he took full advantage of it.  Clicking it gave 30 seconds of unlimited balls, and he sprayed them machine-gun style without even aiming.  This quickly cleared a path while I was still looking for the instructions.

I recently read this is the trend. Young people today do not read directions for anything, even if they are available. Their approach is to plow ahead and try whatever comes to mind. Most often this works and is more efficient than taking a step-by-step approach, especially on an app where each person uses it to fit their own needs. An app is seen as a tool, like a hammer. Sure, you can hammer nails, but you can also loosen a stuck window, seal the lid of a paint can, lots of other things. You don’t expect an instruction booklet printed in six languages.

Manufacturers understand this. They know the average person will spend a maximum of 20 minutes understanding a product. If they don’t get it by then, they will return it as defective.

About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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