Computer Users' Bill of Rights

As a counselor, social worker, teacher and Peace Corps Volunteer, I have always been concerned about the rights and opportunities of others. Now I have focused my attentions on web, computer and products users.

For some reason, developers and designers have thought that users should adapt to the software as opposed to the software being adapted for users. This ideal is changing as we move into a more user-centered world, however, this manifesto by Clare-Marie Karat from IBM was written a decade ago and still is not being followed (see Microsoft).

These Rights are self-evident and designers should keep them in mind while creating the graphics, architecture and help files.

  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.

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