December 31, 2007

Photoshop & “The Paradox of Choice”

Shopping for strollers this weekend (oh yes, it’s getting to be that time), my wife and I found ourselves adrift amidst dozens and dozens of similar models.  Multiple cupholders, detachable Cheerio hoppers, quick-release "infant inserts," heated leather-wrapped winches with built-in fondue pots (<–okay, I only wished for that last one)–it all makes your head swim.  God, how do you make The Right Choice™?

Finally I said, "You know, if we walked in here and there were only one stroller, we’d probably say, ‘Looks great, we’ll take it.’"  And with that, we chilled out, made a choice, and walked out happy.

This is just one example of the bafflement people face on a daily basis.  Whether it’s 175 kinds of salad dressing or 6 million possible stereo combinations in a single store (both real examples), says psychologist Barry Schwartz, this "infinite choice" is paralyzing.  According to the TED Web site that hosts his entertaining and enjoyable 20-minute talk on the subject,

[It's] exhausting to the human psyche. It leads us to set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them, and blame our failures entirely on ourselves.

His example about buying jeans ("I want the kind that used to be the only kind!") is particularly dead-on: "All this choice enabled me to do better… but I felt worse."  Why?  Because choice raises expectations, and "With perfection the expectation, the best you can hope for is that stuff is as good as you as you expected."

I think about this issue with Photoshop all the time.  For years I’ve argued that the problem isn’t that people can’t accomplish something; it’s that they think there must be an even better way to do it, and that they’re therefore failing to achieve perfection.  Thus they can get better results while feeling worse.

So, what can we do about it?

A simple response is just to hide things, offering "simple" and "advanced" modes, or the like.  Photoshop does this in a number of places, via menu customization (try the "Basic" workspace) and More/Fewer Options buttons in dialogs like Shadow/Highlight.  The thing is, this doesn’t work all that well.  People just say "Show me everything."  Why?  Because no one wants to be the guy who drops three grand on an SLR, then leaves it in moron mode.  No one wants a Ducati with training wheels.

A better solution, I think, is to make Photoshop more task-oriented.  We need to help people bring forward what’s needed, when it’s needed, and put it away when it isn’t.  We need to emphasize best practices–showing the constellations among the stars.  The Photoshop team can’t do this on its own: we need to help users blaze their own trails, then share the solutions with others.  We group these ideas under the heading "Lighting the Way."  Instead of offering unlimited choice, or putting irritating constraints on it, we’ll work to provide just the right choices most of the time.

Finding the balance is no easy challenge, but that’s what makes it fun.
J.

Related interestingness:

  • In "Challenging the Apple Archetype," Cameron Moll argues for letting people customize their user experiences.  Rather than assuming that "Father knows best," we should help people tune things to taste–within reason.  He envisions "The LEGO archetype."
  • In the NYT, Janet Rae-Dupree talks about how "Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike"–and the problems that can result.  "I have a DVD remote control with 52 buttons on it," says author Chip Heath, "and every one of them is there because some engineer along the line knew how to use that button and believed I would want to use it, too."
  • To dig a bit deeper into Schwartz’s ideas, see also his article "The Tyranny of Choice."

PS–I sometimes have to chuckle when people talk about the complexity of Photoshop, or any professional software for that matter.  Sometime I should post screenshots of what features look like while in development.  A dialog like Shadow/Highlight might have literally 50 or 100 control points that can be used to fine-tune the settings.  ("I’ll give you something to cry about!" ;-)) Much of the work in developing the app is to boil that complexity down to something workable–maybe four or five controls that offer the most bang for the buck.  The trick is to make things "as simple as possible, but no simpler."  ("A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.")

Posted by John Nack at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2007

Comments

  • Mark Thomas — 3:50 PM on December 31, 2007

    And I thought this was going to be some sort of defense of Photoshop’s near monopoly on image editing. ;)
    Anyway, I’ve been arguing this point for years: that too much choice is bad because it makes it difficult to find the right thing and makes it easy for dishonest companies to slip crap products into the market, always at the consumer’s expense.

  • Tim — 3:59 PM on December 31, 2007

    John
    Have you looked at Office 2007 and the use of the Ribbon Bar. It organizes by tasks. This is how MS describes it
    “The Ribbon is designed to help you quickly find the commands that you need to complete a task. Commands are organized in logical groups, which are collected together under tabs. Each tab relates to a type of activity, such as writing or laying out a page. To reduce clutter, some tabs are shown only when needed. For example, the Picture Tools tab is shown only when a picture is selected.”
    [I've seen the ribbon, but since I spend so much time on the Mac, I haven't gotten to use it. I'm eagerly anticipating Mac Office 2008, and I'm not sure quite how its UI changes relate to the ribbon. I should install Office for Windows via VMWare, but I just haven't gotten around to doing so.
    In any event, what I have in mind is a bit more like Lightroom, but more open-ended. We want to leverage and enhance the workspace system, offering clarity & guidance without compromising the flexibility of today's UI. --J.]

  • SBG — 4:09 PM on December 31, 2007

    Does anyone have a link to that Adobe matrix that explains the difference between all those bundles? ; )
    [This thing? (It's under "Product selector," right below Creep-O The Clown.) I'd argue that the success of the Creative Suite(s) is due largely to people wanting a simpler system than trying to roll their own configurations from among 15+ individual apps. One can certainly do that, but the majority of people now go with suites. So, while it's true that six suites is a fair number to choose from, those configurations do greatly reduce the overall challenge. --J.]

  • Silence7 — 4:43 PM on December 31, 2007

    Adobe CS3 Bundle matrix
    http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/?cs3Tabs=compare
    Windows Vista matrix (For comparison since we’re talking about too many choices)
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/choose.mspx
    [So, should Adobe offer fewer Suite configurations? We already get dinged for not offering even more flexibility (e.g. a way to get InDesign and Fireworks in a suite without going all the way to the Master Collection). There's no way to please everyone. --J.]

  • bill patterson — 5:24 PM on December 31, 2007

    JOHN, I THINK YOU HAVE GOT THE IDEA THAT WILL MAKE PHOTOSHOP AND ALL THE OTHER APPLICATIONS GET MORE MONEY OUT OF MY POCKET. I DO NOT USE ANY OTHER APPLICATION THAN PHOTOSHOP BECAUSE THEY SCARE ME. TOOK ME TWO YEARS TO LEARN IT. I THINK THIS NEW RAW PHOTO STUFF WILL BRING A WHOLE LOT MORE USERS. ITS EASY AND HELPS YOU GET STUFF DONE FAST.

  • Boris Yankov — 6:33 PM on December 31, 2007

    I have gread trust in Adobe’s ability to provide good UI. Lightroom is perfect example of that. The improvements in Photoshop Elements’s UI show what could be done in the big daddy too.
    [I've been excited that the Elements folks are being more aggressive in how they approach the UI. I like their use of task-oriented panels, but we have to be careful not to make additions that make Photoshop feel constrained or dumbed-down (the training wheels on the Ducati thing). A lot of that is a matter of style and perception, but it's critical to get right. --J.]
    John, I strongly urge you to investigate the Office Ribbon. It is an incredible addition for the Office, which of course can’t be taken literally for Photoshop, but I am sure most of the ideas will fit well.
    Even more important will be Jensen Harris’ blog explaining each piece.
    One of the biggest problem I see right now as photographer is that some of the very intuitive controls from Lightroom are not present in Photoshop and the rest that are present are not organized in one place but are lost in the many menus. Example: correcting chromatic aberrations is done from Filter -> Distort -> Lens Correction.
    [Yeah, you're seeing the results of the app growing organically over many years. (If you haven't seen it already, you may find my Photoshop, as seen through Johnny Cash post interesting.) If I could snap my fingers and make it so, we'd transform Photoshop into a collection of thousands of useful functions, with a layer of highly flexible user interface sitting on top. That way Adobe & users could easily craft the right interfaces for particular tasks (the LEGO archetype), removing tool/choices that aren't relevant or useful for the work at hand. (That could even entail no UI at all, depending on how the scenario.) Obviously this migration requires much more than a snap of the fingers. The good news is that we've had the target in mind for quite a while & have been quietly working towards it. --J.]

  • Mark Thomas — 1:06 AM on January 01, 2008

    Be very careful with what you do with the Photoshop GUI. The last thing you want to do is solve a problem (a complex GUI) with more complexity (a customizable complex GUI). If modo can teach the world anything, it’s that customizable GUIs only really get leveraged by a tiny fraction of users, so what you end up with is a situation in which the developer — convinced he cannot create a GUI to satisfy all users — doesn’t even try and instead places the burden on the users. This is bad.
    And Lightroom is not a good GUI model. It has a few tools which are nicely interactive, but overall the Lightroom GUI is a modal mess that looks alien and behaves strangely on all platforms. Lightroom doesn’t even get the placement of scroll bars consistent. Some are on the right. Some are on the left.
    Rather than wasting huge amounts of engineering effort making an app’s interface customizable, it would be wiser to just study good GUI design from an expert and put some of those simple concepts to use.
    A good start would be to get rid of the padding around the tool bar and align it flush against the side of the screen — leverage the power of the screen edges — so that tools can be selected with a quick flick & click of the mouse.

  • Mordy Golding — 6:12 AM on January 01, 2008

    I still think that we’re dealing with technical products, and anyone who is successful with tools like Photoshop are those who can understand the technology at some level. As an example, I’m often asked why you still need the Clone Stamp tool know that Photoshop has the Healing Brush tool. Unless you understand the underlying functions of each tool, you are left with “well, let’s try this, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll try another”.
    Compare that to a car that has a braking system. It works well, but in certain conditions, the brakes don’t function as intended. So an anti-lock braking system is put in place. Now, the car senses when certain types of breaking are necessary and adjust accordingly. But here’s the key — the driver uses the same tool to brake as he did in the past. So there is still one “tool” to stop the car. But the tool adjusts itself accordingly to the condition. The same can be said for a traction control system that’s added to the car. Again, the driver still has one tool to go and one to stop, but tool has evolved to provide better results.
    Now take that concept to Photoshop. A single tool that adapts to each use would mean the user would still use a simple set of tools to perform complex edits and get better results. Instead, we get more and more tools and each one is good for different tasks.
    To continue on the previous analogy, can you imagine driving a car where there were 3 brake pedals? One brake pedal would be perfect for wet conditions, one perfect for short stops and one perfect for leisurely stops.
    The problem in my mind is marketing, not engineering. Adobe is stuck in a mode of thinking that they have to add new tools in order to excite people to upgrade each version. We don’t need new tools. We need the current toolset made better.
    For example, in CS3, Photoshop has completely revamped the Brightness adjustment. In the past, the function was close to useless. Now however, the function is meaningful. The experience to the user, however, is exactly the same. I could say similar things about the enhancements to the Curves dialog. So why isn’t that being hyped up in Adobe’s marketing? Why instead is Adobe talking about Video support and 3D and the like? Because Adobe thinks that stuff sells.
    [It *does* sell. Each release needs to contain both sizzle and steak. It's not an either/or thing. --J.]
    As I learned at Adobe, the engineers are indeed extremely talented. But the marketing folks need to provide direction and define need. There are glimpses of that — but there needs to be more of it.
    [True enough. --J.]

  • Bruce Watson — 8:42 AM on January 01, 2008

    “A better solution, I think, is to make Photoshop more task-oriented. We need to help people bring forward what’s needed, when it’s needed, and put it away when it isn’t. We need to emphasize best practices–showing the constellations among the stars.”
    I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.
    [Cool--thanks for saying so. --J.]

  • Lynn Grillo — 10:39 AM on January 01, 2008

    @Tim and Boris re: the Office 2007 Ribbon. I immensely dislike that bad boy. Stuff that used to be one easy click away is buried one or two levels down now. For me it’s the perfect example of what NOT to do. On the other hand, I think Acrobat 8′s task based approach works well.
    As for Photoshop, Mordy gets closest to how I feel. I’d like to use the tools I’m already familiar with to get more done more easily.

  • jimhere — 11:56 AM on January 01, 2008

    Mordy: …”The problem in my mind is marketing, not engineering. Adobe is stuck in a mode of thinking that they have to add new tools in order to excite people to upgrade each version. We don’t need new tools. We need the current toolset made better”…
    Correct. I think as of PS5 or 6, absolutely anything could be visualized in Photoshop. The healing brush is amazing, but please don’t feel like you have to try for the Nobel prize in Task Bars with each version. Mordy’s hero, Illustrator, proves this with its new color machines, something that makes aiCS3 so much more, er, exciting than psCS3 (even though I’ll always pay you for both).
    JN: …”It *does* sell. Each release needs to contain both sizzle and steak. It’s not an either/or thing”…
    Or could it be “it’s the latest version”, and “this is what’s currently available”? I buy every 18 months. Didn’t you?
    JN: “So, should Adobe offer fewer Suite configurations? We already get dinged for not offering even more flexibility (e.g. a way to get InDesign and Fireworks in a suite without going all the way to the Master Collection). There’s no way to please everyone.”
    That’s exactly what I did, You should be thankful for my Master Collection money instead of worrying about the “people”. Pro apps should be pro apps. I’ve never seen this “Elements” you speak of and I’m sure the kids love it, but PS is a pro app.

  • Peter — 2:14 PM on January 01, 2008

    I started writing this before Mordy’s post and I don’t have time right now to go over it again, so sorry if I’m repeating some of the things he mentioned in his post.
    However, I don’t agree with the Brightness/Contrast thing. I only use it for situations when i really want to blow out stuff, for example when dealing with masks and channels or smoothing upsampled low-res b/w logos by blurring them and then increasing the contrast. Now I have to tick the “Use Legacy” check box every single time, which is quite annoying. The change is just preventing beginners from getting fooled by the name and doing something stupid, it’s not very valuable for a pro since it does not offer enough control for most cases, so pros will continue to use curves.
    But to the point: I prefer to really learn a complex feature or how to use multiple features together to achieve a certain result and thus have all the power I need. I’m not really a fan of “Instant Results” sliders and magic buttons. For example, whenever I have to use Microsoft products, I always feel like the software is somehow imposing its idea of what I should want to do on me and treats me, well, like an idiot (Visual Studio is a very nice exception though).
    In contrast, Photoshop does not perform Tasks for me, it offers the Tools to complete them myself, making it extremely versatile and infinitely more powerful.
    It’s one of the things I love most about Photoshop that it lets me do things in lots of different ways by offering the building blocks. If I want to remove a color cast, I don’t use an option that says “Remove Color Cast”, but I can use Color Balance, Curves, Levels, Solid color layers with blend modes, Apply Image, Hue/Saturation and so on. I have all these “lego bricks” that I can use to build my own version of “Remove Color Cast” that better suits my image than any pre-built tool would, or I can use them for something entirely different.
    Just as an example for the opposite: Refine Edge is nice, but it’s something I did not really need since I could build it more or less myself by using filters such as Gaussian Blur or Minimum in Quick Mask Mode or on a Channel/Layer Mask. That even gives me a live preview. The same goes for Shadow/Highlight, it can be easily replicated (at least to some degree) using existing tools.
    Such things make certain operations quicker, but they have very limited use in other contexts, and for me, it’s those things that ultimately “bloat” the application on the long term, rather than improving user experience sice the don’t really add much valuable additional functionality.
    Let’s take a real-world example: Imagine you couldn’t wash the color out of a paintbrush. You’d have to buy one brush for each color you intend to paint with. For the beginner, that’s good, since he/she does not have to know how to properly clean the brush, nor would he/she have to be concerned with color harmonies. But the advanced painter would prefer one brush that can be used for all colors since it takes up less space on the desk while providing more flexibility. Plus he/she can now mix colors to achieve results that would be impossible otherwise.
    By the way, I think your strollers example is somewhat inaccurate. Photoshop is a professional product aimed at professional users. You’d have to be a professional stroller buyer (I know that sounds stupid) if you wanted the comparison to be accurate, and I think if you actually were a professional stroller buyer, you would want to have so many choices with different strengths.
    By the way, there is quite a big problem with “Show more Options” or “Advanced” buttons that don’t remember their state and are always collapsed when the dialog opens: If the inputs it hides value fields that automatically use the last settings used, they hide non-default values, giving the user undesirable results. The “New Document” dialog box in InDesign is such a case that really bugs me. The bleed setting always defaults to my last choice. But I don’t see which values are in there if the options are hidden. If I had some unusual value in there and I forgot to click the “More Options” button, that can be simply annoying or even a big problem when outputting for professional print.
    I think you should make Photoshop Elements task-based and the full Photoshop primarily tool-based and add only those task-based operations that take very long to do manually, or are used extremely often, or are hard to do by hand. The Red Eye tool and Auto-Align/Blend Layers are examples of such task-based features that are very valuable additions to the application.
    If you want to make the UI more usable/less complex, you should take a look at making the UI even more context sensitive if you ask me. It already works great for the tool options bar, which only shows the options for the current tool instead of having a separate settings panel for ever single tool. But you don’t really need the swatches when you are working on a layer mask for instance.
    Even though it hides features you don’t need, a context-sensitive UI is very different from a task-based UI in that it shows you only the options that make sense in the current context as opposed to showing the options the application things I need for the current task. It may be the current selection that determines the current context, or a user action (such as opening the Preferences, or selecting a tool from the toolbar).
    A really nice example of such a context-sensitive UI is Autodesk Toxik — they only show you the options for things you are currently working (you can see their UI in action here: http://download.autodesk.com/us/toxik/tutorial2007/), and it looks rather intuitive to me once you know the basics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you copy that paradigm for Photoshop, I just think they did a great job at keeping the non-relevant stuff out of the way without dumbing-down the software. Their Gate-UI thing looks pretty cool as well by the way.
    Lightroom on the other hand is strictly task-oriented. It’s a great software and it’s extremely intuitive, but the price you pay is that it’s use is pretty much limited to digital photography, whereas Photoshop for example is useful for a wide variety of target audiences.

  • Vanderhellen — 5:31 PM on January 01, 2008

    The trick is to make things “as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
    If so, please unify the “alignment” (for instance) in Adobes CS applications. Why are the results in ID and AI different? There is a different strategy to align 2 items if I don’t want tp move both. Try!
    And this is only ONE example for the need to streamline the usability of Adobes applications. They should do their homeworks first. :-)

  • Scott Valentine — 8:59 PM on January 01, 2008

    For a while now, I’ve fantasized about PS reducing the number of built-in filters in favor of a few core kernel operation UIs. I’d love to slap on a stripped-down GUI that lets me choose a matrix filter rather than distributing sharpening, blurring and edge finding into a dozen or more specialized dialogs.
    But I realize this is not for everyone, nor even a modest percentage of users. Still, it would be nice to have an option to let me get at the kernels without having to write custom filters in a compiled language.
    Talk about reducing the number of choices ;)

  • Doug Nelson — 2:15 AM on January 02, 2008

    There’s only a seeming paradox of choice when the choices lack delineation. It’s the cliche of trying to be too many things for too many people.
    IMO, PS should embrace the “pro” and be infinitely extensible and powerful. Don’t conflate “accessible” with “intuitive”. PS should work intuitively for those that know how imaging works. Let Elements be accessible for those who don’t.
    Don’t worry about helping users understand the difference between clone and heal, they should be the same tool (along with all the other brushed tools). And if it’s not the exact right tool, it should be straightforward for a 3rd-party to develop the exact right tool.
    PS is going schizoid, trying to be both floor wax and dessert topping, lamborghini and big wheel, Leica and Polaroid.
    The only criterion for future PS development should be providing the optimum workspace and framework for knowledgeable users to do their best possible imaging work. Let Elements, Fireworks, and Lightroom be there for the LOLcatters, giffers, and production photographers.

  • Art Swalwell — 7:27 AM on January 02, 2008

    The problem isn’t the complexity, it’s figuring out what all the new stuff does and how it works. Thank God for Russell Brown, I hope we can find someone, or several someones, to fill Bruce Fraser’s shoes. (Sorry Mr. Kelby, I like a little substance with my sophomoric jokes.)
    Art Swalwell

  • Tim — 11:55 AM on January 02, 2008

    Lynn re Ribbon Presuming that you use Word on a regular basis than changing the arrangement of the tools might be a negative. I don’t use Word regularly beyond the basic word processing features. Having a more task oriented arrangement helps me to know what tools apply to the work I’m doing and the result I’m looking for.
    Which brings me back to LR. It is task oriented to just Photography. If I don’t use it daily reacquainting myself with its controls isn’t time consuming. The same can’t be said of PS. That leads me to Scott Kelby’s latest book “The 7 point system”. Scott found there were seven steps he did in PS to correct a photo. Rearranging the GUI to show just those tools would be similar to the Ribbon in Word.

  • Trevor Morris — 4:27 PM on January 02, 2008

    Happy New Year!
    Conrgats to Mom & Dad (to be)!
    Great read as always, John.
    [Thanks on all counts, Trevor. Happy New Year to you as well. (Let's hear it for non-denominational, unambiguously wishable holidays! :-)) --J.]

  • imajes — 4:54 PM on January 03, 2008

    “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
    Replace designer with sculptor or photographer. Both also reduce to perfection [a photographer when capturing image that is].
    As for the Creative Suites selling well, well duh, it’s cheaper than buying individual Apps, but I certainly don’t want to buy the Master Suite to get a load of apps I don’t need to get the ones I do want.
    There needs to be a Master Design, where you get everything but video/sound stuff. BTW I recently went to an Adobe promo event extolling the virtues of the CS3 suite and its integration. Thought I’d look into this very important aspect and opened a PS file in Fireworks and no PS produced slices to be seen!?
    Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks LR’s interface is a bit messed up. Yeah, what’s with having Scroll bars on the left on some panels, whereas every other app [including Bridge] has them on the right even for scrolling things in the panels left of screen. And why does this app use [in Windows] Cnrl+, instead of Cnrtl+k like other PS family members. Imagine how confusing it is trying to remember if your programme does things the Mac way or the PC way when using a PC. If I’m using a Mac I want the progerammes to obey Mac conventions and the same when using a PC. Is it my imagination or do the Windows versions of recent Adobe apps seem rougher round the edges than the Mac versions. Anyone would think they were designed for the Mac and hurriedly finished off for the PC.
    And having to go back to Library to get a grid view of images is a complete PITA. Esp in Develop Module. Film strip is a weedy and clunky replacement.
    And I have still have to figure out why user order works only some of the time in Grid or Filmstrip. And it not working at all when including photos from subfolders, duh-uh! Smack head on desk. Speaking of sort order, why isn’t the menu offset when you click on the button, like normal options. As you all too often click on the option that appears over the button you’ve just clicked. Again an untypical behaviour. Select toolbar content does the same thing too, but if you click on the filmstrip folder line it’s correctly offset.
    A bit off the tyranny of choice but a comment above reminded me of LR’s oddities/inconsistencies and wilful differences from the programmes you’d use with it.

  • imajes — 5:46 PM on January 03, 2008

    As for the tyranny of choice, Apple go way too far the other way and you have the Tyranny of Jobs instead. ‘Think Different’ was Apple’s slogan ,but it should have been subtitled as long as it’s exactly the same way we think.
    Time Machine – brilliant idea, but how simplistic is it? I use Windows Home Server [unlike Vista this is really good and works with Macs too]to back up and it’s also very easy to back up, but I can easily elect to back up only what I want and not what Apple think I want backing up.

  • Patrick — 2:39 AM on June 26, 2008

    I know I’m late to this particular party, but let me just say:
    1) I *like* choices, and in fact the greater number of choices in customizability is, so far, the major improvement I notice in CS3 (for instance, I’ve never understood why Adobe doesn’t think “crop” deserves a shortcut; but now Adobe’s choice on that doesn’t matter to me since I can just give it one!). Having too many choices is bad when the choices aren’t significantly different (50 kinds of jeans, when, really, they’re all just jeans), but when the choices significantly affect how you use the program, I’m all for them; and I have enough self-control to simply ignore all the ones that *don’t* affect my work (hell, now I can just remove them from the menus!).
    2) The “old” brightness/contrast was not useless (I use it on every image I take, probably), you just have to know what they do. Fortunately, what they do is extremely simple. On a histogram, increasing brightness moves values to the right, decreasing brightness moves them to the left; increasing contrast spreads values out, decreasing contrast moves them together. OTOH, I can’t figure out what the “new” brightness and contrast do. I’ve already found, for instance, that under some situations large increases in contrast actually move values closer together–precisely the opposite of my intended effect and clearly *not* an increase in contrast! The “new” controls are of no use to me since I don’t know what they do and thus can’t use them to achieve any particular goal. Now, new users often have difficulty figuring out how to use the “old” brightness/contrast effectively, and apparently these new users like the “new” one. Anyways… the solution to all this? Well, Adobe got partway there by adding the “use legacy” button, but they didn’t get all the way there, since anyone who wants to use the “old” brightness/contrast has to check that button every single time. The full solution would, of course, be to offer more choices. Let me choose to just have “use legacy” be the default under all situations and I’ll be happy. Similarly, let those who love the “new” one just have that be their default in all cases and get rid of the “use legacy” button which, by being right next to “preview”, is apt to be pressed accidentally.
    Give me more choices, I say. And don’t force an organization by task on me, since I’m sure Adobe and I will disagree with what’s relevant to the tasks I want to do. If I can customize the interface, Adobe’s choices don’t need to be right since I can make my own.

  • dusty from numerica — 10:09 AM on February 07, 2011

    I hear what you saying and there are personality types that I think fit the situation where your assertions would be a virtual bullseye. Where I think you could expand on your theory/practice so that you are still “hitting the target” at near the same level of accuracy, but for a significantly larger size group, would be to add that knowledge (in the context of being aware) can be viewed as a difference set of knowledge as compared to knowing a more realistic set of what your options for each situation wherein a user takes any amount of time thinking before choosing doing (doing=carrying a task through to completion)

    I realize what I am trying to add to this topic is coming out very clear, but basically, I think with whatever set of choices a user is presented with to complete the desired function, IMO it helps to include a “You Are Here” type of pictorial representation as to how many other options may be available to complete similar tasks that result in a different end product that require possibly just as many different “paths” or physical and mental investment from the user to complete the desired task.

    As far as the example using image editing software and having a premium program available that may be so user friendly that a first time user of the program (but one who is moderately familiar with computers in general) would rate a companies such as CS as easy to use of PSelements, if it could be pulled off I think you could keep as a company total number of all editing programs/bundles nearly the same BUT have a greater number of those sales as purchases of the significantly higher priced CS if the CS had a simply addition to the custom options tab which corresponded to 3 different defaults 1)1st time user 2) I had last years elements programs but all I did was crop or block out my face and tattoos for risque dating site 3) I had last years elements and used it to put my face on somebody elses body and the images could pass for not manipulated, to put on my risque dating site profile.

    If you could market it as totally new CS now more intuitive and 1st time user friendly it is simpler than elements.

    Because elements is a very user friendly program and of course the wording that I threw out there is slightly misleading, but I think the PC market would love to have CS with some preset default options that would hide all the more advanced options and essentially run elements for a 1st time user.

    Would it sell any more CS bundles in the same amount of time as just simply offering upgrade from element to same year version CS for the difference in the retail price?

    who knows? but I can say I would buy CS over elements if I had the funds available but instead I bought elements at the advice of someone who is CS savy and the advise was not given based on cost efficiency for what I wanted to do, but rather she thought I would not be happy with CS due to it being more complicated.

  • Louis — 4:02 AM on November 09, 2011

    If you are not happy using the product CS5 PS then there are a stack of others on the market. But it think the main point of it has to be that once you get your head around the complexity or choice photoshop has every tool you could ever need! Not to mention its update-ability!

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