My pants are fancy!

During the development of Windows, the User Research team tried out an early build of some proposed changes on volunteers from the general community. During one of the tests, they invited the volunteer to just play around with a particular component, to explore it the way they would at home.

The usability subject scrolled around a bit, admired the visuals, selected a few things, and then had an idea to try to customize the component. He fiddled around a bit and quickly discovered the customization feaure.

To celebrate his success, he proudly announced in a sing-song sort of way, "My pants are fancy!"

That clip of a happy usability study participant gleefully announcing "My pants are fancy!" tickled the team's funny bone, and the phrase "My pants are fancy" became a catch phrase.

Comments (13)
  1. Larry Hosken says:

    Of course, if the whole project is named Pants (e.g.,…/pants ), then customization is known as "tailoring".

  2. BJC_ABZ says:

    I guess this isn't a direct comment on the blog but the link to the User Research enrollment page is amusing. The folks there might be interested to know that the Scottish referendum voted "No" to independence. Consequently "United Kingdom" != "England", although the State field options have been coded as though those terms are equal. I'm sure the folks of Wales and Northern Ireland would be just as miffed (upset).

  3. Kevin says:

    @BJC: I'd guess it auto-translates those options into UK, in order to be friendly to the people who voted "Yes" for independence.

  4. Mark says:

    Hmm, that is a bit odd. Maybe someone took the list from the wrong place and was told to fix England but didn't realise that involved combining Scotland, Wales and "Ireland, Northern".

  5. smf says:

    "was told to fix England"

    What needs fixing? England is a country while United Kingdom is a sovereign state. If you're selecting a country then it should be England. The Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland entries are correct. They are countries and have been for a long time.

  6. Muzer_ says:

    @BJC_ABZ: That's rather amusing, especially since putting a county (which is what the state field is really showing; the English Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan counties combined with the London boroughs, and excluding the Isles of Scilly) is deprecated for postal addresses, so there's absolutely no reason someone would need to know it. Sounds like someone tried to be clever and only succeeded in seeming ignorant.

  7. Muzer_ says:

    @smf The UK can be said to be a country of countries. Especially since "country" doesn't really have any official meaning as far as I can tell; the common meaning of country IS a sovereign state or something similar. If you're selecting a country, the only sane option is for it to be the UK.

  8. Harald van Dijk says:

    Richard Osman would say "And as always, by "country" we mean a sovereign state that is a member of the UN in its own right." But the User Research team are supposed to know about usability. If they have found that users prefer having the option to choose either England or the UK as their country, and if providing both options does not cause any inconvenience to the developers, then there's not much of a reason not to provide both options.

    I prefer to think that some test user did a happy dance upon seeing that dropdown list, and that that happy dance was reason enough to keep it like that, sort of like this story. Positive thinking and all that. :)

  9. Antonio 'Grijan' says:

    That discussion about England/Ireland/United Kingdom remembers me of the story about the geopolitics problems of the Windows 95 timezone map, elsewhere in this blog… Come on, guys, isn't that "a bit" off-topic?

    To get back on topic, Raymond's article reminds me of the "Do It" anecdote from the Macintosh development. An usability story similar to this one, but with a very different ending:

    Definitely, usability tests are really strange things…

  10. Brian_EE says:

    If you are going to talk about the difference between the UK and it's component countries, this CGP Grey video is really good at explaining it all:

  11. Gabe says:

    I find it interesting that the UK is a state composed of different countries, while the US is a country composed of different states.

  12. Muzer_ says:

    @Harald van Dijk: Indeed, Richard Osman is what I had in mind ;)

    But the problem is not that the UK is shown along with England, Scotland, Wales and NI – that would be OK, but still a bit weird/atypical. The problem is that "United Kingdom" shows counties of England (only) in the "State" field, and there is no separate England option. If you live in Scotland, Wales or NI you *have* to select those countries, and not UK, because their counties aren't listed in the UK state field — but if you live in England, you *have* to select UK, because England isn't listed.

    As I said previously, listing counties in the State field seems rather unnecessary anyway.

  13. DavidE says:

    I worked on an application for Bob, and our avatar was a topiary named Myrtle. One of the actions was called "Lots to do", where Myrtle would dance around like crazy, and when our marketing person would see this dance, she would get excited and say "Lots to do, Myrtle – Lots to do!". After the project was over, this became a catch phrase at our office for a while. BTW, working on Bob was a nightmare.

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