Monday, February 3, 2014

Computer Literacy and Software Developers

Computer literacy is an expression used in the software development industry "to convince users that they are to blame in failing to master machines and software that, in fact, are not human literate." So says the 2001 book "A Devil's Dictionary of Business Jargon."

There's a lot of truth beneath this sarcastic comment. Every experienced software developer can tell stories about end-users who personified computer illiteracy. Truth is, every experienced end-user of software can tell stories about GUIs which should never have been released, and help files that should have never been written.

To paraphrase the advertising icon David Ogilvy,
The consumer is not a moron.
The consumer is your spouse.
To sell more software, create several learning paths for your application.

  • Give technical power-users a quick-start guide so they don't have to waste time reading instructions that are targeted at newbies (hold down the "alt" key and press the "A" key).
  • Give technical newbies the tools that they need to learn your application. Show them videos. Give them instructions that are targeted at first-time computer users.

Similarly, both experienced business people and business newbies will buy your software. If you're offering, say, a business planning application, you can safely assume that some of your users are experienced at creating strategic and tactical plans, and others aren't. Make it easy for members of both groups to enjoy your software.

The goal is to get prospects and customers delighted with your application - so delighted that they'll tell their friends and colleagues. And while that might require some extra effort, it will pay off in the long run. It's good software marketing.

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