Users can’t read anything, and if they could, they wouldn’t want to
I recently wrote something about an experience I had with my iPad when I just opened it up. I got plenty of angry responses telling me that since I didn’t read the manual I’m not allowed to complain (in other words, RTFM).
Such comments really piss me off. Not because I should not read manuals (I actually do in most cases), but because good products should not expect me to. I’ve written about it in the past, but here’s a short piece of text written 12 years ago by Joel Spolsky that sums it up in the best way:
When you design user interfaces, it’s a good idea to keep two principles in mind:
- Users don’t have the manual, and if they did, they wouldn’t read it.
- In fact, users can’t read anything, and if they could, they wouldn’t want to.
Reading this text many years ago had a great effect on my life. I recommend you read it through: Designing for People Who Have Better Things To Do With Their Lives.
And again I’ll stress the point - sometimes you must have a user manual. In most cases you should probably include a user manual for those looking for it. But you should aspire to build products that most people can just start using, without reading anything in advance.