Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2009-01-02

Wanderlust and wonderlust


You can read Alex Garland's The Beach and you can be amazed by the colourful surroundings or you can be troubled by the selfishness by the people described in the book.

We travellers around the world have a big responsibility. To the environment, to each others and perhaps most importantly; to the local people.

When I went to college the word of the day was Information. We were supposed to be information seeking individualists. Information seeking? When starting reading Informatics this winter I understood that this is not fashionable any more. We don't seek information but thrills.

This affects me being a part of the leisure industry. We don't only have the wanderlust in people. We also have a wonderlust to tackle.

But it affects all developing software. People are not content in a system which barely surrenders the information they need. You get frustrated and disappointed if the system is not intuitive and amazing. Developers thinking "well, that (lousy) usability issue is something people have to learn how it works" need to build a sense of craftsmanship or get another job.

On the picture my son is looking longingly at the airplane. Experiences are so much about longing. In the case of leisure travelling this is perhaps obvious. When we start thinking about travelling we start longing for it. The longing period is also part of the experience. But this also applies to the implementation of computer software. Agile software developers leaves room for this phase by their inclusion of users in the development process and this should be exploited better. If you see the introduction of a system as a travelling experience you can give your customers and users so much value.

Most travellers don't only care about the trip from the time the plane lands. They also care about how the alternatives are presented, how the order is put, how the logistics at the airport works, which services and products are available. And I believe the same applies to the users of computer software.
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2 Comments:

Blogger Wilhelm Svenselius said...

Developers thinking "well, that (lousy) usability issue is something people have to learn how it works" need to build a sense of craftsmanship or get another job.

On the other hand, if you gave the world's best programmers infinite time and resources to build a perfect product, it would never get done. There are other considerations besides usability and user experience: time constraints, pressure from management, etc. Not saying usability isn't important, but I think you're over-generalizing a bit when you're saying that any developer who doesn't put usability as the top priority is incompetent.

Consider also the large number of applications that are complex and powerful enough that some amount of user education is an absolute requirement. The alternative would be to dumb the interface down so far that power users would find it limiting. You'll find this a lot in development tools, for example. Someone who's never programmed will have a hard time figuring out Visual Studio. Yet pro developers love it.

January 4, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Anna Forss said...

It is of course so that usability issues are up for trading like all other choices you have during development. And what is good for one user group is perhaps not good for others. You have to choose.

The situations I have in mind is though when usability was considered very important and the developer in question made bad decisions and her only excuse was that the users simply had to learn how it worked. That is a very bad excuse if there are better and simpler solutions which does not cost any more.

The target group for a system like Visual Studio is targeted for a professional group with a high computer skill.

But does that make it OK to for example choose the keyboard short keys for copy to CTRL+E and that CTRL+C closes the program without saving?

Of course you can learn that but why?

January 5, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

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