• Power users vs Casual users

    Posted on November 7, 2012 by ivanadmin in Desk & Archive.

    This is not just topic for Desk & Archive, but for software in general. I don’t think that there is much doubt on the thing whether there are two distinct group of users – power users and casual users. But it is much less certain when you try to categorize software that way.

    I will try to show on the example of web browsers. Long time ago, Internet explorer ruled the world. However, there were some other browsers, like MyIE which were for power users. They were much more powerful, but also much less user-friendly tools. And then came Mozilla Firefox, which has changed the rules of the game. It was user friendly. But features came second – removing even some features that Internet explorer had. And then came Google Chrome, and at the start it was even more focused on being user-friendly, but also much less on having many features.

    What happened later and how those browsers developed is much more interesting. It turns out that power users are also early adopters and that they don’t look just for software with a lot of features, but also for a fresh approach. So, frequently they became users of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. And surely, they found some things lacking and influenced those platforms and their development, and next versions contained some more things for powerful users, specially in Google Chrome (which even lacked add-ons system at start)

    So, by some strange flow, power users are actually the first ones to use and try casual software (or even devices like iPad). And at the end it turns that user-friendliness is the key for most software and devices, as it will attract both power users and casual users. It might turn out that power users will use casual software or devices most of the time and use power tools to do some specialized jobs. That is the case of iPad – it took much of user activity from laptops, but still power users might now and then switch to laptop to do something they can’t on the iPad. Or, in other cases, it might turn out that they switch solely to causal software, as it was the case with web browsers.

    At the time of the release of Desk & Archive, the positioning seems to be the same – Desk & Archive is focused on being user-friendly first, and then delivering as much power as possible. It puts it above Windows explorer in both features and user-friendliness. Other similar tools may go further in features (though there are many features where they can’t rival Desk & Archive), but at the expense of being much less user-friendly.

    And so history repeats. Power users come to Desk & Archive challenged by its fresh approach. But just like at the time when Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome were released, they will realize that user-friendliness requires trade-off sometimes. And as we receive feedback, Desk & Archive will get more powerful and sometimes even acquiring features that are for the power users only, but never at the expense of being user friendly. Example is the case when one user required replacing of filter by file type using a menu using filter with a  text box where user would enter the extension, or adding such box as an additional filter. As a power user, he faced a lot of situations of having many different file types to filter, which is much less likely user case for a casual user.

    The problem is that there are many people not aware of file extensions, and even they shouldn’t be – in reality it is a computer and non-human, thus even not user-friendly concept. Also, many people don’t touch keyboard unless really necessary. So, putting box instead of the menu was out of question. But adding box next to menu, while somewhat better, also seemed like unnecessary complexity that wouldn’t be used by most people. So, I had to figure out a better way. And as usual, right answer is both less complex and more powerful.

    Currently, when users searches using the search bar application looks only for text in the file name, not at the extension as results might be confusing otherwise. But now it is improved, so that when search text contains dot – “.”, extension is also included in searched text. The approach is much easier for power users, as you can just start typing an extension and you will get the effect of the filter, without going through the filter panel. And then you can also search for file name by separating it with space from extension. You may also type the full name with extension, and you will get the file, but I am not mentioning it as if you know the exact file name you are not really in need of filter by extension, which this talk was about.


    This feature will be released in our next minor update 1.0.1.

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