DOS ain’t so bad after all
~ 07 January 2008 ~
Is it possible the web interfaces we construct today are occasionally less efficient than DOS interfaces of yesteryear?
Because I often don a suit and tie, I dry clean items nearly every week. When I drop off clothing by drive-through, the clerk zips through customer and product data with incredible speed.
Last Friday I found myself purchasing a La-Z-Boy chair to accompany a sofa of the same style. The salesperson sprinted through inventory and delivery data with similar speed.
In both scenarios, the interfaces enabling these quick experiences are DOS-driven. No gradients, no Ajax, no mouse. Fitts’ Law isn’t even of concern. Just alphanumeric characters and keyboard strokes.
Admittedly, what should be understood is that both of these scenarios are point-of-sale transactions. The primary users are experienced employees who have been trained specifically to use these systems, which may often have steep learning curves.
What’s interesting, however, is that in both scenarios, there are secondary participants: me, the customer. For all intents and purposes, that makes me a secondary user; that is, I’m just as dependent upon the speed of the transaction (interface) as the primary user: the salesperson or clerk.
There’s a lingering temptation among those of us in the industry to replace all so-called “antiquated” means of doing things with newfangled web interfaces. And rightly so, given the many benefits the web provides. Yet, I cringe when I think about these two satisfactory DOS experiences being replaced with point-and-click web interfaces.
Please keep me a DOS secondary user for the foreseeable future, point-of-sale citizens.
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