The first major design direction we investigated was a separate UI ("shell") for beginning users. The design was quickly mocked up in Visual Basic and tested in the usability lab. (See Figure 4.) While the design tested well, because it successfully constrained user actions to a very small set, we quickly began to see the limitations as more users were tested:
1. If just one function a user needed was not supported in the beginner shell, s/he would have to abandon it (at least temporarily).
2. Assuming that most users would gain experience and want to leave the beginner shell eventually, the learning they had done would not necessarily transfer well to the standard shell.
3. The beginner shell was not at all like the programs users would run (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.).] As a result, users had to learn two ways of interacting with the computer, which was confusing.
For these reasons and others, we abandoned the idea. Importantly, because we used a prototyping tool and tested immediately in the usability lab, we still had plenty of time to investigate other directions.