Barking Up the Constraints Tree

Bradley Chambers is arguing that regular people have no idea how to manage photos on their phone.

Note that I removed the i from iPhone. This issue does of course not apply to iPhones only. It is, however, even more striking that it is an issue at all considering that Apple has been the world’s usability leader in hard- and software for decades.

The issue goes deeper, and it won’t be resolved just by adding more gigs to the iCloud account, or acquiring Everpix or any of Bradley’s other (though reasonable) suggestions.

He is barking up the wrong tree, IMO, when he says:

Photo storage and backup needs to be automatic and so easy that it’s nearly impossible to screw up.

It’s not about making something automatic, or easy, or “nearly impossible” (whatever “nearly” means) to screw up. First, it’s about making people aware that there is such a thing as image storage. No, wait, make them aware that there is such a thing as storage first. Back in the day, anyone who owned a computer knew what a KB was, and how many megs their HDs had. Today, when one of the “regular” people Bradley Chambers is writing about, hit a button to send a dozen high-res DSLR images by e-mail, they don’t care about file sizes, or attachment limits. They expect that things will just work — and rightly so.

The thing is that things won’t ever just work. There will always be constraints about how and why things work, or don’t work, even with hyperloops, quantum computers and what have you right around the corner.

Giving “regular people” 1 terabyte (a tera-what?) of image storage won’t help. Only by making them aware of the constraints they are lodged in between, one can expect them to make reasonable and informed decisions.

This might be the next (or, maybe, last?) frontier for content strategists and UXers – we’ve come a long, long way from requiring users to read book-long manuals towards immersive, tutorial-like experiences, but we aren’t there yet. Not by a long shot.