A key decision in designing a user interface is deciding on what the default entries should be. One example is deciding on the default for “country” when entering location data. If you are a site that is catering primarily to the US crowd — StationsWhereGasIsCheap.com — you might make “United States” the default. If you are looking at a more international clientele — EclipseTracks4U.org — you might make it a straight alphabetical list (although you are likely to get few readers from Aardistan). The idea is, you make the most likely choice the default. Unfortunately, the Wii Fit gets this wrong on a number of its screens.
In many cases, the only choice is (A), ‘yes, I heard you’. You don’t have to point, you just click, and it moves on to the next repetitive message (of which more anon). In other cases, there is a real choice to be made, and enabling the correct click event makes the user experience smoother. Remember, you don’t want the user to have to think.
Consider the start of an exercise. When you call up an exercise, Wii Fit offers two choices, [Demo] and [Start]. In this case, the WF doesn’t default to anything, so you have to point and click. Is this the end of the world, a deal-breaking failure of the software? Obviously not, but it indicates a lack of attention to detail. Once again, it makes the user think, and users hate to think, they want it to just work. The WF knows who I am (it has the correct Mii after all), and it knows how often I’ve done this exercise (it tells me, whenever I highlight it), so what’s so hard about picking a default that matches my exercise patterns?
As another example, consider that I have just finished an exercise. What is more likely, that I want to do it again, or that I want to move on? I’d vote for move on, but WF assumes that I want to [Repeat] (yes, many do, but I’m talking of the majority). I am usually good for one mis-click per session, partly because the click-(A) option has trained me to respond in a manner inappropriate for the current screen. While we are on the topic, I note that after a Yoga or Strength exercise, WF recommends an associated exercise, usually from the opposite set (Yoga recommends Strength, etc). Unfortunately, the only way to get to the recommended exercise is to [Quit] the one I just finished, go back to the selection screen, shift from Yoga to Strength (or vv), and pick the new one. Why couldn’t the interface offer the option of clicking on the recommended excercise rather than [Quit] or [Repeat]?
I see three possible solutions. First, pay more attention to what the defaults should be. Nintendo does user testing, so ask the users. Second, keep track of what the individual user does, and conform the interface to their habits. Finally, when all else fails, ask the user. Allow them to go into the setup routine and change the default responses.
It’s all about respect for the user and attention to detail.