User’s Bill of Rights

A friend and graduate school colleague¬† of mine, IBMer Dr. Claire-Marie Karat, wrote a computer user’s manifesto back in 1998. Unfortunately, the same issues she described then still need to be addressed now.

I offer this as a reminder that we have been fighting poor software design for many years and the fight for usability still continues!

For more information, view the Business Week article.

The Computer User’s Bill of Rights

  1. The user is always right. If there is a problem with the use of the system, the system is the problem, not the user.
  2. The user has the right to easily install software and hardware systems.
  3. The user has the right to a system that performs exactly as promised.
  4. The user has the right to easy-to-use instructions for understanding and utilizing a system to achieve desired goals.
  5. The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention.
  6. The user has the right to a system that provides clear, understandable, and accurate information regarding the task it is performing and the progress toward completion.
  7. The user has the right to be clearly informed about all system requirements for successfully using software or hardware.
  8. The user has the right to know the limits of the system’s capabilities.
  9. The user has the right to communicate with the technology provider and receive a thoughtful and helpful response when raising concerns.
  10. The user should be the master of software and hardware technology, not vice-versa. Products should be natural and intuitive to use.

Clare-Marie Karat, Ph.D., Psychologist
IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
Hawthorne, N.Y.