Sometimes I observe my 5-year-old playing games on the internet, e.g. in 1001 games -site among others. It never seizes to amaze me how well he finds his way around in the game menu. I mean the kid can’t even read but there he is, navigating fluently like a pro. I can see the pride in his face, feeling good about his skills.
Whose skill is it?
As skilled as my son is, so must be the people who made this and similar sites. They knew something about their target users and acted accordingly: They provided visual cues on mouse-over, pictures of games which even a small kid can “read”. They also chunked related games together into groups that seem to make sense for kids.
Usability affects self-esteem
The fact that they had made this usable feature had a positive effect on my son’s self-esteem. He knew how to use something, and that experience made him think he must be very good at it – and as a consequence he felt good about himself. The same goes for the rest of us.
Attribution theory to blaim
Something called attribution theory plays a role here. It has to do with how we explain our own and others’ behavior. Whether we think something is because of the person, the situation or the occasion. Basically, when we do something well, it is natural for most of us to give credits to ourselves. As did my son.
Credits are due
While my 5-year-old still thinks he’s the youngest web-genius out there (as do I by the way), I must give part of the credits to the people who make these sites, too. I wish more site makers would know their users and let it show in their designs. Just imagine how many people YOU could make feel good about themselves!