tim’s user interface guidelines provides one of the best descriptions about a common fallacy in usability testing assumptions: that intuitive use is always a good thing.
“Appropriateness of use is not necessarily easy or efficient use.
A bicycle is not easy to use. Anyone who remembers crashing into a tree as a kid can attest to this. But, I would offer, a bicycle is most certainly designed appropriately. The bicycle provides the functionality I desire when I ride it (I can sit on it, position myself above traffic, it’s light and strong), but it is not easy to use. Sometimes, my bike isn’t efficient to use, either. There are days I’d be much better served riding in a car when I’m in a hurry slogging my way up a steep hill.
What we’re really getting at here is the notion of tools that know what they are. I was ridiculed for saying this once because of using big words, but I’ll say it again. The more specific the tool or device, the more you know about its user and the context of use, and thus the more you know about the specialty for which the tool exists in the first place. In this way, there is less amibiguity about the tool and its purpose and you have as a result so clearly defined the morphology of use for the tool that the tool knows what it is and for what purpose it was designed. Why else would there be a reason for me to have seven different pairs of shoes for seven different outdoor activities (diving booties, cycling shoes, climbing shoes, running shoes, hiking boots, ice skates, and fins) than for the reason that each activity requires different tools for my feet?”