Want a usability expert? Try a kid.

I had to laugh a little bit about "usability experts" the last time I visited with my sister and her daughters. As I was creating a movie and a website with my nine-year old niece using iMovie and iWeb, we very quickly ran into several problems, including:

  1. I had to "explain" to her why I couldn't drag and drop some content into iMovie. ("But it's right there Uncle Al, why can't I move it into iMovie?")
  2. Sometimes the proper window didn't automatically receive focus, and she started typing into another window. This problem was exascerbated because the window that had focus isn't highlighted very much compared to windows that don't have input focus.
  3. The highlight color in iWeb was hard to see, so it wasn't apparent that text was already highlighted, so my niece would re-select text that was already selected.

There were quite a few more things that were wrong with both application experiences, including fundamental issues with the Mac OS X user interface, but I didn't bother to write them all down. I just remembered this experience as I was working with another Mac application today.

I'm not saying that a young child can help with the rules of your business application, but if you're curious as to whether your latest user interface (UI) design is a very good idea, do yourself a favor, and test it on a kid.