Welcome to the second installment of UX Focus where I discuss all things user experience related. This post is focused on Windows 10 holding my external hard drive hostage.
Windows Can’t Stop
The end of the day came around and it was time to pack up my stuff. In typical fashion I leave every program open, eject my external hard drive, close the lid to my laptop and pack up. However, this day Windows said NO.
Actually it said “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because a program is still using it. Close any programs that might be using the device, and then try again later.” Ughhh, I know that any program I was using with my external was ALREADY closed but since I didn’t want everything to vanish off my hard drive (maybe a ridiculous fear) I shut down some programs that “might” be using it. Tried again, same result. “Hmmm, okay I will shut everything down” (as seen in the screenshot below) I thought to myself. That will show it right? NOPE. I still got the same error.
Dumbfounded the only thing I could think to do was to shut down my machine. For me this is a sacred practice that I go to great lengths to avoid. I know I should do it more often but I just don’t want to…so leave me alone.
This type of “helpful tip” is so frustrating to me. How in the heck does the system KNOW a program is still using it but can’t tell me which one? It’s 2015! Then to top it off it tells me to “try again later”. When is later? I need to go now. Give me my hard drive back you ghastly machine!
I am a UX Designer. I am not a computer programmer nor do I know really anything at all about computer science. So I don’t know if it’s possible for the machine to look into its self and say “Ahhh looky here, Photoshop is still open. Why don’t you go ahead and close that.”
But what I do know is empathy for users. When the system has an alert that tells a user to “Close any programs that might be using the device” and they literally have ZERO programs open & the system doesn’t tell them what to close, it’s going to frustrate them.
I also know that I am like most average users when it comes to operating a PC and maybe even a little below average. (I have been an Apple person all my life who has recently began working in the Windows sphere.) So I feel like I am a pretty good litmus test for these type of product interactions. I may even have an upper hand on the average user since I am likely more tech savvy. So if I don’t get it, I know there is a high probability of a larger audience being stumped.
This goes back to not making the user think and guiding them through the experience. Simple solution is to tell the user WHAT program is preventing the issue. If this is not possible at least guide the user to help. Include a text link that reads something like “Having trouble? Click here to read more about ejecting external devices.”
Users are a precious commodity. A company like Microsoft benefits from a huge market share and the fact that there are limited options for an operating system.However, most products don’t have this luxury. It is imperative to really think about the user experience and have empathy. Test your products, with real users. Hire a dedicated in house UX designer or hire a consultant to get the ball rolling. Bottom line is, if your product frustrates users it won’t be long until they are looking for an alternative.