Monday, July 7, 2008

Usability and handedness – is it considered at conceiving software?

Within the software products / tools I have ever installed and worked with I have never discovered one, which pointed explicitely to the consideration of handedness.
So it seems, that one is working with software, which is mostly (always?) designed for right handers.

Is this assumption right?

How to satisfy handedness?

To meet the need of right and left handers at conceiving software one needs to know and be able to identify, which hand is supported in which way.

Does it really suffice to switch the mouse keys and mirror the menu and toolbars?

What needs to be considered at conceptual design of software therefore? In my opinion this is a topic really worth mentioning.

Your feedback is welcome.

Best regards,



Christoph said...

Hi Bettina,

I'm a right hander and I don't know too many people who are left handers. Personally, I don't know if there is anything which has to be considered for software application.

Personally, I think more important is sufficient hardware, for example:
* symmetric mice
* notebook computers without connection cables or heating vents at the left side
* ...

Only one thing comes to my mind when it comes to handedness: touchscreen applications for the industry or tablet PCs. There, you have to design the panels in such a way, that using input fields with the hand doesn't cover important information on the screen (e.g. number block right, number indicator at the left).

Maybe I'm completely wrong and somebody wants to correct me :-)


Adam of the Redwoods said...

Ask yourself: why has the Mac mouse been one button for the longest time?

It's for the left-handers. Keep It SImple.

Once tech-minded people realize that the keyboard is part of the user's world as well, you'll learn to ease off on your reliance on packing functionality into those mouse buttons.

Also, know that people who use tablets only rely on the left-click. It is cumbersome to use multiple mouse buttons.