The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

Food for thought…

What Most Users Can Do

If you want to target a broad consumer audience, it’s safest to assume that users’ skills are those specified for level 1. (But, remember that 14% of adults have even poorer skills, even disregarding the many who can’t use a computer at all.)

To recap, level 1 skills are:
* Little or no navigation required to access the information or commands required to solve the problem
* Few steps and a minimal number of operators
* Problem resolution requiring the respondent to apply explicit criteria only (no implicit criteria)
* Few monitoring demands (e.g., having to check one’s progress toward the goal)
* Identifying content and operators done through simple match (no transformation or inferences needed)
* No need to contrast or integrate information

Anything more complicated, and your design can only be used by people with skills at level 2 or 3, meaning that you’re down to serving 31% of the population in the United States, 35% in Japan and the UK, 37% in Canada and Singapore, and 38% in Northern Europe and Australia. Again, the international variations don’t matter much relative to the big-picture conclusion: keep it extremely simple, or two thirds of the population can’t use your design.


Nice coincidence: KISS -The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think


sorry mods @fergish @neo @frabrunelle …just saw the duplicate of this…my bad! :wink:

Guess I need to up my computer user skill level! haha!


The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

Reference: OECD (2016), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies

Netherlands leading the way again :grin:


I’m wondering about the correlation with other demographics.

Age distribution for example might explain why Japan - with many highly skilled users and early adopters - appears to do so poorly.

It does appear there are still a whole bunch of old people off the grid in Japan (and the developed world in general for that matter)…lol!

No matter what, convenience will always be first priority for the user. The functionality and inner workings could be outstanding, but if the program looks bad to the end user then the product will not last.

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