We all talk about usability: How to focus on how the system fits the user and not the user fitting he system.
What Memi is talking about is Understandability. It’s not that the user has to be able to use the system, he has to understand it. Memi makes a point in saying that no technical terms should enter the user’s domain.
The point mentioned was using the error message “The date format is incorrect. Enter valid format: dd/mm/yyyy”.
I’m sure that I’m not telling you anything new here, but there are at least three ways out of this without a scratch:
- You separate the field to three fields and write day, month and year for each. Maybe even combo boxes.
- You create a field that is a formatted text box (adding slashes automatically, etc).
- You put a big-ass explanation of what is ‘dd/mm/yyyy’ somewhere close to the field (or somewhere in the manual).
None of the said solutions are easy to implement or look nice (unless you’re a UI whiz).
Memi calls it “The newbie syndrome” but I know way too many experienced developers who don’t really care much for usability, never mind the understandability, of their work.
In my opinion, thinking in terms of usability starts from the lowest ranks, the developers, and not the designers.