My mother was very pleased to announce to me that her Skype ‘hearing aid’ had arrived.
It is too easy to forget that the terminology we [people that ‘work with computers’] use all the time just isn’t used or understood by others. I had a moment with a client the other day – “why don’t you ask them [the participants] if they have narrowband or broadband?”. Because, the general public doesn’t say narrowband. Some might say dial-up but most just have ‘the internet’ (often referred to by name of ISP i.e. “I have aol, tiscali, pipex,…”) and they might know that they just got broadband.
We have to be a bit careful. We chuck all this stuff at people but sometimes forget that they weren’t in the design meeting and don’t know what on earth we are talking about.
Another Skype anecdote is from a friend. Her sister-in-law and she were all set for a Skype chat. The sister-in-law could hear, my friend couldn’t. “Can you check if your microphone is plugged in?” “My what?” – came the response.
Oh it does seem so obvious but it isn’t.
Have a quick look at the Skype Download page yes, it does mention microphones and speakers (I can only tell you this because I had to read it all so I could write this) but it is in with a bunch of bullets under the title System requirements. You don’t need me to tell you that no-one reads very much on the internet and certainly not when it is presented in that sort of format. And don’t go on about ‘dumming down’ either. A little picture of a headset somewhere could add a nice bit of decoration to the page as well as educating. Did you read the system requirements before downloading Skype?
Once, during a viva for a software engineering assignment I used the word assume. My lecturer actually went red in the face telling me how assumptions were the mother of all f*** ups. It is amazing how often I have to tell that story.