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They're not as savvy as you think

Most users aren’t stupid. They’re just not as savvy as we think. And they shouldn’t have to be.

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This is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of
the many questions I get at

A colleague recently reminded mind that a frighteningly high
percentage of people don’t realize that the listings on the right hand
side of a Google results page are paid advertisements. While not
techie, these are folks whom we would be consider to be relatively
computer literate.

This morning I sent email to a contact at an organization I do a
little work for that had been sending out Microsoft Word documents with
change tracking enabled. Several iterations of changes were visible to
anyone who had the appropriate display setting.

Why do I mention these two examples? Because these are not stupid
people I’m talking about. These are otherwise intelligent, competent
people who simply aren’t as savvy about computers and software as we
think they are.

And they don’t want to be.

In the case of the Word documents, there are liability issues at
stake that require that they get a little more educated – but that’s
the level of impact it requires for many people to realize that there’s
an issue at all. There’s a vast group of people who use computers – but
just barely, or just enough to get a job done. They don’t want to know
more than they need, and they’re not interested in playing with their
software to find out more.

The result? A vast miss use and under use of the wonderfully
powerful tools people have sitting right in front of them.

If there’s anything I’ll ever start harping on here, it’s that
people aren’t as savvy as we think, and they don’t want to be, and they
shouldn’t have to be.

Forget all the features – we, the computer professionals, need to do
a better job of making the basics work, work well, and work in obvious
ways. When otherwise smart people don’t bother learning to copy and
paste because retyping is easier (as I’ve seen) – we’re missing
something very, very important.

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2 comments on “They're not as savvy as you think”

  1. This commentator has it absolutely right. A computer for most people is a tool to get to what they want or need. Keeping things up to date Firewall/Anti -virus/spyware/adthings .. takes time and most are impatient as I am. I do keep the protection up to date but it takes time from what I really want to do.
    A pc is just another pencil …….. but sharpening a pencil takes seconds ….. oh well 🙂

  2. I agree in full. I have good MBA Can’t understand 20% of what I read in my PC World, or when I click on help.Seems like computer folks are intent on keeping millions of users from getting max knowledge and enjoyment from thier machines. About only thing I can usually understand and use are the ask leo articles. Are techies simply not able to bring thier dialogue, instructions, etc down to even decently educated ordinary folk. Do they fail to grasp the frustration of users to say nothing of the marketing implications.


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