Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Computers in the Movies’ Faux Pas List

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For those of you back at the office today, we feel for you, we really do. While we’re still all on vacation, lounging around in such popular hot spots as Glendale, Arizona, we have your interests at heart, first and foremost. And because it’s also a really, really slow week for news, we thought we’d give you a little something fun to read, an oldie but a goodie, Jakob Nielsen‘s “Usability in the Movies: Top 10 Bloopers.” It’s in that tried and true style of picking on the film industry for trying to make computers and the internet more exciting and cinematic, as opposed to showing what it’s really like: mind-numbingly dull to watch. So it’s an easy target, but it’s fun and that’s what we all need right around now, right? It’s also incredibly geeky too — so rest easy movie makers, you’re still much cooler than we nerds who like talking about this stuff. Here’s one of the ten:

1. The Hero Can Immediately Use Any UI
Break into a company — possibly in a foreign country or on an alien planet — and step up to the computer. How long does it take you to figure out the UI and use the new applications for the first time? Less than a minute if you’re a movie star. The fact that all user interfaces are walk-up-and-use is probably the single most unrealistic aspect of how movies depict computers. In reality, we know all too well that even the smartest users have plenty of problems using even the best designs, let alone the degraded usability typically found in in-house MIS systems or industrial control rooms.