The Myth of Average

Today I was reading this article, so this article will be a short summary of the concepts in the article. Also be sure to watch the TED talk at the end of the article. Big shout-out to Todd Rose who did a great job of explaining why usability is so important.

Today, we take for granted that equipment should fit a wide range of body sizes rather than being standardized around the “average person.” We can also apply that concept to technology, websites, and the educational system.

What if chairs were not adjustable? In fact many chairs are not adjustable and that means a poor sitting experience. What if the mirror in your car was not adjustable? Many people would not be able to drive because it would be unsafe. And what if websites were not responsive? Users would have to play with a single screen size, or a single screen size to get the optimal viewing experience. For many people, it would not be possible to use the website at all.

The crazy part is that you can implement simple solutions to solve complex problems. All the U.S. Air Force had to do to solve the fighter cockpit problem of the 1950’s is to create adjustable cockpits. Read the article if you want to learn more about this crisis.

In the video- a TED talk by Todd Rose- he mentioned the educational problem in the U.S. And drew parallels between the fighter cockpit problem. (Absolutely brilliant, by the way). The myth is that when a system is designed for the average person, it fits the most people. In reality, the system fits no one. Because students have many different metrics that the school is trying to respond to: Math ability, reading ability, memory….

Web developers, remember: You can create responsive websites by implementing simple solutions. But first, you have to think about what ways it might be difficult to use your website. Is the text too small? Is the HTML hard to read for blind people? Is the reading level too high?

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