Problem with Over Predicting UX

The iPad’s volume control is calibrated so that when you keep the down button pressed for more than a split second, it immediately switches to mute. Why? Because the designers of the iPad figured that anyone who keeps the volume down button pressed must be wanting to achieve total silence. Not true. This is over-thinking and over-predicting. Almost always when I keep the volume down button pressed, I am wanting to get to a certain low volume level. Not total silence.

There are people, including myself, who just naturally like to press buttons this way and not just on the iPad. If you are familiar with the device there is no reason to slow down any maneuver. I am capable of knowing when to lift my finger when my desired level is reached. On the iPad, my only option is successive button presses whether I want slow or quick decrease of volume. I find the iPad’s volume button behavior quite annoying. It just makes me wonder what sort of time difference we’re dealing with here if the buttons worked normally. I’m willing to bet that the saved time A) probably isn’t significant enough to make any sort of real world difference, and B) was not worth the risk of annoying the group of users who expect buttons to function normally.

The train of though that led to such feature may have made sense to few people. But concluding that the public at large must behave the same way is very narrow minded. Either the designers of the mute feature have not done proper research or they have made decisions in a vacuum.

Accommodating and thoughtful features elevate the user experience. But it’s a very fine line that separates the thoughtful from the aggravating. An over-thought UX can quickly ruin an otherwise typical, trouble-free, everyday operation. A good UX gets a nod from a recognizing user. A great UX feels so natural that it makes user think of nothing at all.

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