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3.1 Reality Check 2: Personal computers are not particularly user-friendly!

Frustration among computer users is real and prevalent. 'Computer rage' is evident in many workplaces (BBC 1999), and many usability specialists suggest that a big part of the problem is that designers simply do not have to consider the quality of the human/machine interaction in order to sell their products, and therefore, they don't (Tognazzini in AsiaWeek 2001).

When the creator of the Macintosh argues that 'present-day graphical user interfaces, such as those of the Windows and Macintosh operating systems … are inherently flawed' (Raskin 2000, xi), then it is time to step back and wonder if maybe, just maybe, all of those things that frustrate us when we use personal computers, might be due to something other than the mystical causes many people invoke to explain a sudden crash, or an inability to perform a computing task that should be straightforward. And when he — and every other specialist in human-computer interfaces and usability (e.g. Nielsen 1999) — suggests that there are simple principles designers should follow to make things more pleasant for computer users, but often don't, then it is time for all those who communicate via computers to step back and wonder 'what can I do to make the user's experience less exasperating, or more useful?'

Raskin's definition of a humane interface is worth considering:

'An interface is humane if it is responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties. If you want to create a humane interface, you must have an understanding of the relevant information on how both humans and machines operate. In addition, you must cultivate in yourself a sensitivity to the difficulties that people experience. That is not necessarily a simple undertaking.' (Raskin 2000, 7).

I believe Raskin's sentiment should apply to archaeology websites created for the public, too.

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