Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 106: Fallacious Fallacies

They did a study.

It's kind of a catchphrase of mine at this point, but hear me out.

There was a study done, and what they did was they asked people to draw bicycles.

They asked all sorts of people; daily bike commuters, avid cyclists, couch potatoes who only ever see bicycles on their TV screen... but all these people had one thing in common.

Barely any of them were able to draw, or even point out, an accurate sketch of a bicycle. Whether they biked every day, or hadn't been on one since their training wheels were taken off, they couldn't independently identify what an actual bike looked like.

They'd accept drawings of bikes as accurate even though the cross bar was positioned such that you wouldn't be able to steer the bike, and all sorts of other structural issues... Whether asked to draw one from scratch, given a partially completed drawing to finish, or shown a selection of completed drawings, failure was the norm across groups regardless of how interaction they had with bicycles.

Lesson 107: Just because you know something really well doesn't mean you can recreate it.

Much like thinking you can draw a proper bike just because you ride them regularly, people have the same thinking about websites. I'm guilty of it myself. We've used enough websites! We know what works and what doesn't! It's easy! I can do it!

But no. No you can't. No I can't. Not without the right training. Bike designers have to learn all sorts of things to know what does and doesn't work, and to learn what can be improved where and in which ways. Web designers need the same.

Just because you use the internet, doesn't mean you can shape it at will.

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