So, yesterday I was with a person who:
- Double clicks on links on a web page
- Use caps lock (on, type letter, off) instead of shift to capitalise something
- Used backspace to delete an entire product title instead of the delete key to alter the single letter needed
- Forgot their password and needed to refer to their diary to check the written down copy
I mention these things not to mock, far from it. I mention them because it’s by no means the first time I’ve seen many of these things happening when people use computers and yet quite often, these are the people who are unleashed on a CMS in smaller businesses at least.
As web designer, I’ve been following all the news and talk about Apple’s shiny retina displays and how they’re going to revolutionise the world of .. well .. at the moment .. mainly rich designers and how the web will suddenly become fuzzy and “unusable” etc.
It’s true of course, these extreme machines with their high specs will revolutionise the web and most likely be standard in a couple of years when it becomes economically viable to mass market and PC manufacturers can replicate the tech but I’ve been reminded just how far the masses are from this heady world we inhabit.
As a long-time WordPress user, it’s been a useful reminder helping a family member work with the Jigoshop ecommerce plugin to get their bricks and mortar shop catalogue online.
Not because it’s bad or difficult to use but because I’ve had to remember that the years of knowledge I’ve built up simply browsing the web and logging into online admin panels were something this particular person didn’t have so I found I had to go right back to basics on a lot of things from explaining that you don’t need to double click a link on a website, that you can in fact press shift for an upper case letter (not caps lock + letter + caps lock off), what a bookmark is, how to organise a collection of product photos from suppliers on her computer and many more things I sometimes take for granted.
Saying things like “just log into your admin control settings” initially meant nothing. I had to create a browser short-cuts to the relevant pages and then explain what a browser short cut was. I had to provide specific step by step instructions that she hand wrote in a notepad (rather than let me just create a page in WordPress) because that’s what she was comfortable with.
All those simple sounding half technical terms have to be reworded or at least explained and demystified. It’s great to see someone getting the hang of a process but even something as “easy” as using WordPress is relative and dependent on what level you (they) start at.
This person will shortly be in full control of a WordPress Ecommerce site.
It actually doesn’t scare me, I look forward to more people like this being given control of sites when they’ve had to learn a process and feel that just by adding a product or writing their first news entry is a wondrous technical achievement because when they start from zero knowledge, a little bit actually goes a long way and they have a healthy respect for the process.
It’s undoubtedly going to make content messier while they learn but the gap between “us” and “them” is quite literally years. These users often pay the bills but they couldn’t be further behind if they tried and they have so much to learn. It’s not a bad thing. It reminds you that the gap between the savvy and no-so-savvy is actually growing and while many of us aren’t at the cutting edge, many users are even further behind.