People who use computers can’t always express what they need, but you learn to discover it with experience.
I helped a client once who asked me to stop by the house to help manage files. When I arrived the “file management” they wanted to do was to create a collage or arrangement of photos. It wasn’t any standard program either, but a webpage that was linked to a third-party website that would print the poster for them.
All of this was completely new to me. However, you learn by doing so away we started. It turns out that the webpage was similar to other web pages in how it functioned. More importantly, because I knew the meaning of the publishing and design words in the menus I could make the changes they wanted.
The clients were perfectionists and not easily given decisions. After most of the day had passed they were pleased with the results. It looked better than something they had tried in the past for another of their children. So that was a good feeling when they acknowledged it looked more artistic.
The hardest part of working with webpages that act as applications is that their interface is not intuitive. Webpages try too hard to create an interface that they think looks cute but that requires people to learn. Unfortunately, this really limits their success. In this case, not everyone could afford to hire IT help to figure something out so it limits their customers.
Webpages are not intuitive for people who hadn’t grown up with them. I have noticed that people perceive a webpage as a Word program. They always look for a cute icon that symbolizes what they want to do. When the icon isn’t there, they don’t know what to do. Words don’t help because non-professionals don’t understand what the words mean. The most useful sites are often the easiest to use.
I have often wondered if sites get popular because they are easy to use, or they are easy to use because they are popular. I don’t know, but if a site has both ease of use and popularity it is a wonderful experience.