Trying vs. Using

Here’s a conclusion to Jason Fried’s post yesterday: The difference between trying something and using something. Designers must design for trying and using. As designers we want both experiences to have positive results, so we have to design for both. However, if you ever have to choose between the two, lean towards “using”.

iPod is my favorite example of this. Try handing an iPod to someone who has never used one before and ask them to find and play “I am the Walrus” by the Beatles (assuming your iPod is properly equipped with the classics). Most will fumble around for quite a bit before they get the hang of the wheel and the center button. However, once they “get it”, it’s all goodness. The experience is optimized for “using” at the expense of the “trying” experience and that makes a huge difference.

P.S. Jason’s comment about the shallow nature of most reviews today is spot on. I find most tech product reviews in the range of mildly amusing to useless. There’s a huge opportunity for a new type of reviewer or review model to come forward with in-depth, “using” reviews. I’ll be the last person to step in line to buy a Zune. The size affects the “trying” before you even pick it up. However, I have to wonder if the tone of the Zune reviews would change if all the reviewers were forced to use the device as their primary music device for 30 days before they wrote anything. I know we’d get a clearer, fairer picture of how good or bad that product really is.

posted by Tadd Giles on Thursday, Dec 07, 2006
tagged with 37signals, ux, reviews