Under The Microscope

Maybe Bob’s Just An Idiot…

…But then, maybe a lot of your customers are "idiots". Derek Powazek writes on The Art Of No, which might better be titled The Art Of Why. Either way, this is an excellent article on interaction between designers and users. Powazek is referring to web design, but this holds just as true for software development.

The idea of asking “Why?” is something I believe in strongly. Users have problems with all software, and that should lead designers to solutions. As Powazek correctly notes, the user often skips over the problem, and directly requests the solution. As a designer, the key is to work back and find the true problem, and then work on getting to the best solution.

There’s actually a second lesson hidden here, namely that blaming the problem on the user is seldom productive. It’s an understandable reflex, but if one user reports a problem, it’s often the case that many users will have that same problem. Not always, but often. And if a big percentage of your user base are "idiots", you need to be designing for "idiots".

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