Boring? Well here's a breakdown...
So what exactly am I talking about with all this mumbo-jumbo?
Basically, I identify a distinction between people that use technology. These two distinctions are:
• Novice Users
• Power Users
Now these terms already exist, but what defines those two groups of people?
The amount of "experience" each of them have with using a system, app, device, etc.
Novice users are typically newer users that are interacting with a system for the first time or haven't used it much. Power users are ones that have used it in-and-out and basically have memorized every interaction of a system by heart.
Why does this matter?
The way that things are designed vary between understanding what the users know beforehand and what they're experienced with.
Take TurboTax for example. People that barely use a computer are able to navigate through TurboTax because of the easy and simple approach they have created for their users. Everything is laid out with minimal text, step-by-step instructions, and is very beginner friendly.
On the other end of the spectrum, take Adobe Photoshop. Now who the heck knows anything about Photoshop the first time they open it? You can click around for hours and still not know how to figure things out. This system has an extremely high learning curve and benefits power users who are able to utilize every single function that they need.
Creating a design with the understanding of ease-of-use and learnability depends how often a user will stay with the system. If something is too easy to learn and master, technologically advanced "power users" will become bored with it and would even prefer 'bad' systems just because it gives them some sort of emotional satisfaction with figuring out how something works, like a kid.
What I found
Basically, it depends what you even categorize as "experience" within individuals, as there are potentially hundreds of thousands of variables.
I know that's not what you wanted to hear - but get this...
There's about 26 different studies that I reference, but for this main point: Users that have strong language ability, conceptual understanding, grasping of frameworks, and the ability to efficiently understand their own knowledge, are able to create strong neural synapses that allow for quick transition and flow of mental state while using a system.
Now what the heck does that even mean still!
OK, put more simply - Novice users have to think and analyze their situation before making decisions every step of the way, while expert users can utilize context clues and quickly evaluate their actions.
But wait, there's more!
Practice makes perfect, right? Well sure, but what makes you want to practice in the first place? Motivation was also a clear indicator that decided whether novice users would be successful with using a system.
Novice users understand that to figure out how to use something, it requires them to practice and put in the time to learn and explore that system.
Most of the time, they don't care to learn it. They just want to achieve what they wanted to do without the practice and mastery.
We already know that novice users lack the knowledge that expert users have accomplished but they limit their involvement with a system and generate fewer goals than the experts.
The definition of "expertise" is vague. There are thousands of variables to consider when understanding the gap between what you call a "novice" user and an "expert" user given a certain designed system.
There are abstract definitions of what "experts" are, really just knowledgeable individuals. But these theoretical concepts do not apply to any modern or practical use of "technology" as a whole.
General use of technology may not have much of a gap between novice and power users, as much as there is for people that dabble with software and engineering. The majority of difference between novices and experts is the level of knowledge on the subject domain, level of practice, communication skills related to the topic, and overall satisfaction for using the system.
Designers should be able to take all of these main variables into consideration when thinking about the best possible approaches to developing systems where novice and expert users both are able to find a way to adapt to the learnability and find satisfaction.
Thanks for reading!
Here's an EXTERNAL LINK to the literature review.