Being one of the few Tech Geeks in the family is a terrible thing, if you’re like me (or if you’ve seen this funny post) then you’ll know what I mean.
However it wasn’t always like that, at first is was fun to help people with their gadgets and sometimes flattering to see people thank you for your efforts although you did almost nothing, but then it starts to get annoying as the help requests become a chore, and specially after learning a lot of advanced stuff, you feel silly doing all these easy stuff.
That’s why I tried to go into their heads and find out how they look at these things.

After me and my friend Mohab El-Karef analyzed the people who ask us for Tech Help, we found out that these people think of Technology as Witchcraft, so opening the settings of an application to fix a certain problem to them is like “Abra Kadabra Alakazaaam !!!” or “Oculus Reparo !” =D
So based on their assumption, Computers are weird, magical and unpredictable, so even if they could guess the solution to their simple problem, they would think “no, that’s too trivial, I must be wrong !” and that’s because they overrate the complexity of Technology and because they convinced their selves that computers were made for the new generation geeks !

Until now you might think that I was only talking about old people who are spending a hard time coping with Technology, but it appears that this “Witchcraft” assumption is also made by some of the people in our generation (and the new one) !
Example? my little brother, he’s 4 years and 4 months younger than me, sometimes he asks me to help him solve a problem on his computer, although I have to admit, they are much more complicated problems that the ones I get from the older generation, anyways, when I’m telling him the steps to solve his problem his mind switches to “I’m doing Witchcraft” mode, so for example when I tell him to search for a certain setting in the router’s page, he asks me “where can I find that ?” so I answer “I don’t know! I don’t memorize router pages! I only know the setting that you have to change to fix your problem!” … “just skim through the tabs and you’ll find it very trivial” so he searches for a while and he doesn’t find it, so I start guessing the names of the places where he should find that setting until he finally finds it, and in a VERY TRIVIAL LOCATION !
It’s like, when I tell him to find something called “Security Key” under “Wireless Settings” so when he searches and finds a setting called “Security WEP key” under “Wireless LAN” he thinks “no, I’m sure that’s not it, this is witchcraft remember? nothing is predictable!”, and when I told him my theory on why he could locate the settings I tell him over the phone, he kept laughing because of how accurate my description was !

Now, enough with my complaints and lets go to the bigger problem …
The problem is, how can somebody design a User Interface for the old people who can’t cope with Technology ?
I know it’s almost impossible to make an Interface that everybody can use, but how to design an Interface that’s even more self-explanatory so that more people are able to reach what they want ?
Designers invented Menu Bars that carry Menus so that the Features are well organizes and easy to find, then invented Tool Bars to make most commonly used Features easier to reach, why isn’t this design working with the older generation ?
If we just list all the Settings and Options in one scrolling list on the side of the application, will it be easier for them ? nah, don’t think so !
But I think the Ribbon Style invented by Microsoft Office’s designers is actually better than the old menus and toolbars style, why? because once my dad got used to Excel 2010, he liked it more than Excel 2003 and spends less time to reach the desired output (in case you’re wondering, I had Office 2010 Technical Preview on my old laptop, and my dad took it when I got my new laptop).

So there must be a way to design interfaces that can be used easily by the older generation, we just need to see things through their eyes and do more analyzing and testing, and of course we need to find a way to convince them that Copy and Paste isn’t “Abra Kadabra” :)

BTW my main reason for writing this post wasn’t to complain nor to make fun of the older generation (or I would’ve been easier to just linked you directly to something like that), actually I’m pretty impressed how some of them (like my grandpa) managed to use a computer without a lot of problems, because technology didn’t advance that fast at their time, and let's not forget that the creators of some of the technology around us are actually from the older generation !
I wrote this post to tell you about my (somehow) theory based on my own experience and because it freaks me out every time I imagine that one day I might be developing applications that should be easily used by them :D

and I apologize for my ugly Post Image, I just wanted anything that describes the Post Title =D