One of my users (1 out of 30) is constantly trying to perform actions in a way that are not supposed to be done in that way.

For example I have two screens let's call them Screen A, and Screen B.

From Screen A, you can see and edit records' information.

From Screen B, you can do a lot of things AND you can also take a look (via iframe) at Screen B.

This particular user complains about the program breaking because he's trying to do add and edit information to the database from Screen B using Screen A's buttons.

Ideally, The user is supposed to get out of Screen B, then go to Screen A edit whatever needs to be edited, and then go back to Screen B if necessary, and this process would only be necessary if the user makes a careless mistake.

Screen's B buttons use relative routes, so obviously the program won't work and there's no right way to make it work, unless I add hackish ugly code to my program.

My question is:

If 1 user out of 30 is constantly trying to perform an action in an order that it's not supposed to be performed, is this a design error or a users error?

  • If you can order your user to follow the manual to the last tee, it is user error. If you have no administrative control over her workflow, it is your error. Jul 15 '13 at 20:36
  • I can essentially tell the user to follow the standard route because it is an internal app, but I think it is a design error rather than a user error.
    – ILikeTacos
    Jul 15 '13 at 20:53
  • 2
    "...there's no right way to make it work." Give yourself a little more time to research and think about the problem. You never know what you may come up with.
    – JeffO
    Jul 15 '13 at 21:01
  • I'd treat the 1 in 30 as an outlier and probably wouldn't worry about it. Unless you're screening for intelligence (ie exam levels) in your recruitment then you may pick up odd people who have a low level of intelligence.
    – PhillipW
    Jul 15 '13 at 21:46
  • 1
    It doesn't really matter what "causes" the error. The error happens, and it can be prevented by taking action - like creating better design, educating users, or whatever. You, or someone, needs to balance the cost of those actions against the seriousness of the error, and the fequency it occurs. Jul 16 '13 at 10:09

In general this is a design error which is called 'misleading'. When you will have 60 users you will have 2 'wrong' users and so on. Your design preferably should not allow to do things in wrong way, however, this has cost - your work to design and develop right interface which optimize your support and maintenance costs. So you need to find balance between these expenses also taking in mind your brand image.

  • I remember in college discussing a question I had gotten wrong on a test - I misread what it was asking. The prof said, "I see how you could read it that way, but..." No one else had misread it that way, so I was at fault.
    – user67695
    Sep 7 '16 at 15:29

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