Registered: Nov, 2002
Re: Software Aesthetics and Quality
Posted: Dec 5, 2002 8:26 PM
> I have also experienced a lot of frustrating software and
> web sites, but I don't believe that the only cause is that
> developers don't stop to think about making users happy.
> For one, I think it isn't easy to figure out how to make
> users happy. It takes skill and experience and maybe even
> some innate design ability to make users happy, and a lot
> of developers don't have it.
You've hit the nail on the head! I absolutely agree with you on this one. Now, I should've been more careful when choosing my words. I should've said 'designers' instead of 'developers', but I'm glad I didn't anyway, because it precipitated your valuable response.
So yes, you're right, the developers should not stop and think. They should simply go ahead and develop. It is us, the designers, who must stop and think, stop and think very hard.
But first of all, we need solid education in the area of 'what is it that makes users happy'. You were right to point in that direction. We must consciously go in that direction.
I have spent the past four years educating myself, training myself in the discipline of the so-called 'goal oriented design'. It is a very tough discipline, and I can assure that it takes years (for a person with average capabilities, like myself) before you start seeing forest instead of the trees. However, I was extremely lucky as I had a rare fortune to work really closely with a person who's been practising the goal oriented design for many, many years. Plus, that person was, besides being my mentor, also a VP of IT in a large company where we both worked, so he was dictating the software development climate. And he was giving us ample time to really take our jobs seriously, as he was first and foremost insisting on QUALITY (even if it takes five times longer to deliver than anticipated).
Now, I realize that many of you here have never been in such a situation, and consequently you cannot even imagine what an exquisite pleasure it is to work in such an environment. But sooner or later businesses will have to wake up to the reality that delivering lousy low brow products makes absolutely no sense, regardless of the time-to-market and budgetary constraints.
> Also, developers are often told by management to worry
> about other things.
See my elaboration above.
> You claimed in an earlier post that
> "User experience is the central theme to software design."
> That's an interesting statement that would be interesting
> to discuss, but I would counter that even if that's true,
> software design is not the central theme of a software
> business. The quality of your software's design is
> important to some extent to the business's bottom line.
> User experience is important to some extent, but it is not
> the only way developers can help the business.
I'll stop you here for a moment, in order to express my bewilderment: if user experience is not the most important aspect of software, what is?
Allow me to elaborate a bit: businesses use various resources in order to make profit. That's the reason businesses exist. One of the most valuable (if not *the* most valuable) resources are employees (people). People use other devices, such as computers, in order to enable the business to turn the profit. But in a way, businesses view even people as devices, meaning the resources that require some input and produce the output.
From that standpoint, the most important thing in the business operation is to maximize the output of the human 'devices'. And the best way to maximize that is to employ high-quality software that will support, not impede human users. So, this is absolutely the central point of contention in the world of business operations. Everything else is absolutely secondary to the human productivity.
> features that helps the marketeers differentiate the
> product from competitors may be important.
Yes, but all these features are centered around the end-user experiences.
> Meeting a
> market window, being first to market, and so on is often
Again, end-user experience related.
> And cramming in features and getting something
> out the door fast is usually in tension with creating a
> good user experience.
I disagree. It is in tension with creating hype, and hype is *not* end-user experience. Hype is hypnosis, which is the opposite of a genuine experience.
> Lastly, I think a real cause of bad software is that
> people buy bad software. If you always being frustrated by
> software, then why are you buying it?
Because it's bundled with hardware. Believe me, if I could, I'd never buy it. But I must. You think I like MS Word and other crap Microsoft is pushing on me? If I had a choice, I'd never pay a penny for that hideous crap.
> I think the answer
> is that, frustration or not, you are getting something out
> of the software that is worth the money and the
> frustration to you.
Not true. The only thing I'm using nowadays is freeware. Because I think all those products are so bad, that it would simply kill me if I had to voluntarily pay for it. This way, I'm clenching my teeth, using the sh*t, but at least I'm not paying for it.
> Over time, the quality of the user
> experience may become more important to customer's buying
> decision, but so far it seems like usability takes a back
> seat to functionality and availability in customer
Software vendors are 'pushers'. They simply push their crap on us, and then get us hooked on the junk they produce. You mention 'customer decisions', but you may have noticed that there barely is such a thing any more. When was the last time you saw a real 'customer decision'? Most corporations are being manhandled by either Microsoft thugs, or IBM thugs, or Oracle thugs, and so on. The most offensive part of it all is that people who are making purchasing 'decisions' are the people who will never be forced to use the junk they are purchasing.