It’s easy to get stuck in old trails. You know, when you first log on you should set you password, change it periodically, blah blah blah, you know the drill. But if you just keep on going in this track you will not simplify it for the user. Reading the post regarding the upcoming Windows 7 and the HomeGroup feature was liberating.
And the reflection that each person in your home is really equal and part of your home group was great. Also when you are at home you are safe and don’t need a lot of passwords to keep safe from family members.
This conclusion wasn’t drawn from computer usage, it was identified looking at the real world:
People don’t allow strangers into their homes and usually lock their exterior doors. People within the confines of the home are typically considered to be trusted.
Within the home, doors to rooms are usually not locked, allowing members of the household to have free access. Books, photographs, magazines, CDs, and DVDs are often freely shared.
Social norms prevent most people from snooping into areas where they shouldn’t and, if needed, adding locks to rooms or drawers is relatively easy.
I love this notion on how reality really affect the computer usage. Another interesting fact was the pre-generated password. It’s really like a key, each family member don’t want to make decisions regarding what type and look the key should have? They want the same key. Also from the post:
You may ask, why don’t we enable people to set their own passwords by default? The answer is actually quite ironic, since that was our initial design. In testing, this concept raised quite a bit of alarm with people. It seems that most people generally have 1 or 2 passwords that they use for all their online or offline activities. When asked to input a user password for their HomeGroup, they gravitated towards using one of those, and then reacted with alarm when they realized that this password needs to be shared with other users in the home! People generally reacted better to the auto-generated password, since they knew to write it down and hand it around. The other interesting benefit we got from this was a reduction in the amount of time people would spend on the UI that introduced them to the HomeGroup concept.
This last issue would not have been identified if they didn’t do user testing. I strongly suggest you read this post. And the others too in the Engineering Windows 7 blog. They are truly worth reading and I am really looking forward to start testing the first beta as it comes out.
// Håkan Reis