Thursday, April 10, 2014

Language is the biggest bane of usability and advertising

I find it surprising, that after years of talking and building user interfaces for computers and digital devices today, we still haven't figured out ways to make our user intercaces totally language free.

I mean, Apple started trying, with icon based menus for the personal computer with the Mac operating system, and then taking this forward with the Operating systems used on the iPhones, but today, where the option to open a new page in Safari had an icon with the "+" sign, today it says "New Tab".

This is the same problem with advertising today, especially on TV channels. The biggest irony, is that while TV channels in India are available in different languages(like English and Tamil for Discovery) as the touch of a button, the advertisement itself stays in the same language.

That may not look like a big problem in a country like England or America, where English is the language of choice, even for the programmer, but here in India, we need at least five languages to suitably communicate in our respective environments.

The problem is that programming as a concept, started in the developed, English speaking countries, whether it be C++, BASIC or Unix.

Today, this trend has moved to countries like Russia and India(where the programming language may be English, office language is British English, but the spoken language is either Hindi or the local language, like Tamil or Kannada).

So yes, you might agree that programming itself needs to change, but before that, we need to really work on the user interface and the marketing materials currently used.

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