Late last year, I was involved in usability testing and encountered something I did not expect to find. Multiple participants were completely defeated by Appleâ€™s Magic Mouse.
Specifically, they couldnâ€™t figure out how to scroll. This problem was compounded by the way that scrollbars vanish by default in more recent versions of OSX. To top it off, the default scroll direction recently reversed in OSX, meaning that even if these participants learned how to use the Magic Mouse, they kept scrolling the wrong way.
I didnâ€™t expect to be helping participants learn how to use a mouse in 2014. Twenty years ago, usability texts discussed how you might find test participants that donâ€™t have computer experience (meaning you might have to train them) and of course the older someone is, the more likely it is that theyâ€™re not experienced with computers. And Iâ€™m just coming at it from the perspective of usability testing in the USAâ€”of course there are places in the world where people donâ€™t use a mouse.
But we were working with American college students, and Apple made them feel stupid. I like the Magic Mouse, overall. Having the scrollbars vanish doesnâ€™t affect my workflow. And I spent a couple of days training myself to use the new scrolling direction. For someone used to Windows or older versions of Appleâ€™s computers, or someone that just uses a laptop all the time, walking in off the street and trying to use this lab setup was challenging and distracted them from the test tasks.
Iâ€™m not sure what to do about it yet. Iâ€™m not ready to say that we need to screen people or offer a short training session. I did go back and change the scroll direction, restore the scrollbars to always displaying, and get another mouse with a scroll wheel. Doing these things solved the immediate problem, but Iâ€™m just not sure what the long-term implications are.