Todd Lapin shot a video of his 2.5 year old daughter playing with the iPad for the first time that's been getting a lot of link love on YouTube (embed below). The video's very cute and points to easy iPad adoption by iPhone users of all ages. The video doesn't get into some points of interest Lapin calls out in a post on Laughing Squid. The video also points to a fallacy I often hear from clients and prospects: "our users are too simple to provide useful feedback about our software."
It's not surprising that Lapin's daughter, who's already familiar with the iPhone, was able to make a nearly effortless switch from iPhone to iPad. By design the device interfaces are nearly identical. A win for iPad, but a predictable one.
The juicy stuff lives in Lapin's daughter's side comments and the areas where she gets stuck in the interaction. In these areas the responses of a young child prove just as useful as those from the most sophisticated participant in a user study.
Indeed it does. I'm guessing that this expectation comes out of her iPhone experience but I have no idea if she watched videos on her Dad's iPhone or not. It would be especially interesting to hear that she hadn't but that it was a natural expectation of something of that shape and size. Some kind of "it looks kinda like a small tv I can hold" association. Lapin would have to clarify that question on context.
I want the one with the camera
This echoes one of the most frequent criticisms I hear of iPad.
I'm still undecided on where I sit on that count. On one hand, it seems simple enough to provide. The iPhone has one, why can't they put one in the iPad. On the other it seems to me that taking photos with iPad would be awkward given its large form factor. I'd love to edit photos I've taken on a touch screen that big but I'm not sure how comfortable I'd feel taking them with something so big. What I'd really like to do is connect a professional grade camera to an iPad for editing and quick previews.
Unwanted multitouch issues
Apparently this is proving a common problem. While holding the iPad people's fingers run out of the "frame" area into the active touch area resulting in an unwanted touch on the edge of the screen. While on the Home screen this means that touches on app icons don't do anything.
This seems simple enough to fix on the home screen. Ignore touches at the edges of the touch sensitive area. But that leaves the situation unsolved for other apps and this is a problem that asks to be solved at the OS or device level rather than in software on an app to app basis.
The trick will be how to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of multiple genres of applications. The implications of the unwanted edge touches are very different for image editing apps than they are for launchers and both of those differ from game interactions.
Touch the cat's face
This one I find especially golden. Daughter is clearly having trouble opening the animal word game. When she first enters she touches what looks like a button to start the game. She recognizes a button as clickable more quickly than an image of a cat's face that says "Play" under it.
It's a reminder that there are reasons that we have button conventions. There are times to break them and times not to. It appears that for 2.5 year old users, buttons get better visual recognition than an image with an instructional caption. The designers took a gamble and for certain users it doesn't pay off.
Usability feedback... no degree required
More than anything though I need to point to this sample when clients say that their users are too simple to provide valuable usability feedback. Providing useful feedback on usability issues or site or app structure doesn't require subject matter expertise or knowledge of the business goals for the site or app. That knowledge often gets in the way. At its heart usability testing is about this: real people that use your site or application providing feedback as they use it.
Something so simple a child can do it.