Thursday, July 27, 2006

When do YOU look at the user?

Think about it. You're putting in this cool new feature, it's going to save the users a lot of time, give them a ton of functionality and, hence, save them a truckload of money. AWESOME!

So, first we nail down the functionality... right? WRONG!!! First you figure out how the users will exercise the new functionality, because that's what you're ultimately giving them- a new user experience. a new interaction mode.

Unless you make sure the user is going to find the new interaction intuitive, any new functionality, however efficient, is a burden. If you make the user jump through a lot of hoops just to do his everyday job, your new feature SUCKS!!!

I actually experienced this first hand recently. We enhanced the TIL Regulation dashboard in an LOS to allow the users to monitor loans as they get dangerously close to the limits and notify them once they fall over. I actually reordered all the controls on the screen just to keep logically related data together. The new design was so intuitive that the Business Analyst approved it in a heartbeat and sent out an appreciation note! (Pat myself on the back)

At the same time, another team member was working on the screen used to configure the regulation limits. Man did they miss the bus! They wrote up the whole screen, new popups et al, and then sat around thinking, 'What if the user checks this but doesn't fill in that...?' WHOA! When he asked me for an opinion, I said that the new validations he was thinking of were cool, but, '...wouldn't it have been much more logical to have thought about this BEFORE you built the whole thing?' Nevertheless, he ended up putting in the validations (in this screen and a few others!). Rework can be such a productivity killer!

The user always comes first. Kathy Sierra agrees in her blog post captioned Ignore the competition.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Turning Developers into Baby-sitters!!!

That's it! I've had it with management covering up their incompetence by 'delegating' work to developers. Enough is enough of this garbage. Ju-JUST BACK OFF... Immediately!!! And do your own work, YOURSELF!!!
Isn't it really annoying when you have to fill up the same data into five different systems (each designed for a specific objective), then wonder if you filled it right everywhere, then draw up a reconciliation sheet because SQA doesn't see the same data as Finance as HR as ...!!! AAARGH!!!
God! Why can't these managers just figure out exactly what data they need and figure out a single source that they can all extract it from. Then we wouldn't have to wast our time filling five different datastores, and reconciling the differences!
Joel Spolsky got it right when he said
...the MBA-types in charge think that coding is a support function, basically a fancy form of typing.
I'm convinced that most people think about software companies in an upside-down way.