Small Change: Big Improvement

I used to teach people how to drive race cars. The man who taught us how to teach had one overarching principle: work on the smallest change you can make to a student’s driving to deliver the biggest improvement to their experience. If you try to teach someone everything at once, while the car is at speed, they will learn nothing, and actually come away more overwhelmed than when they arrived. Find one thing that can be improved and work on it. When that’s solved, pick one other thing, but not steering, gas, brakes, managing traffic, looking ahead, monitoring gauges, AND watching flag stations. Not all at once. Tiny changes: big results. I had an instructor once teach me how to smooth out my steering inputs entering a turn, and it took whole seconds off my lap-times. Another taught me over the course of a weekend where to track my eyes. Nothing else. Huge improvements to my awareness, speed, and ability to preserve the car.


This week I was going to write a big long post about improvements to cyber-security with Windows 10 Hello and Passport and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, but a little teeny update was posted to the Office Portal login page, so small you'd hardly ever notice, but it has delivered those same kinds of experiential improvements that I loved imparting to my students, and I didn’t even have to put on a HANS device or fireproof underwear.


Previously, the re-authentication process was:


Select the account to use for login

Type password

Hit <Tab>

Hit <Space> to check the "Keep me signed in" box*

Hit <Enter>


But that process was incredibly alien to me, because I always felt like I was trying to submit at "Keep me signed in". So I would hit <tab> <space> <tab> <enter> like a normal person, expecting the tab order to take me to the "Sign in" button. But it didn't. It took me to the "Can't access your account?" link, and instead of getting in to the portal, I got help with my password. Every. Daggone. Day.


Somebody fixed it.


Monday morning I fired up the PC, browsed to the portal login page, tab-space-tab-entered, lamented my mistake, and...was signed in? Just to verify it, I signed out and used the old stupid tab order, and that worked, too. Minor usability improvements like this don't usually ping on our radar as admins, but they go a long way toward adoption within the enterprise.


Thank you, Microsoft!


*Maybe some other day we'll talk about the placebo effect of this box, but I like it.

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