The "it works" syndrome
Imagine: you are in a restaurant, on the
menu you have found your favorite dish and
Unfortunately, when you get it, the quality
is not the expected one, something is VERY
wrong. You call the restaurant manager
and tell him that you are not satisfied.
Here is his answer: "Sir this food is not a
poison, will feed you without any medical
This approach would be considered foolish
in most worlds, but is quite common in
software. Programmers are like that: they
often do not care about the easiness of
use, they care a lot about the availability
and correctness of functions.
Putting a check mark on the field “available and tested” in the long list of
project functions is their reason of living.
This, tragically wrong, mentality is very often pervasive into the project team.
When deadlines are approaching and there are, as usual, some delays usability
is totally forgotten. This is the main reasons why too often we see horrible
pages where usability (or sometimes we should better say UNusability) choices
are almost impossible to understand.
Very often the usability expert’s team is considered a useless way of spending
money and delay the project, The mentality is "let's have an OK so that finally
we may work on the project without further disturbances".
This is VERY wrong!
First of all usability is NOT a pertinence of a special group in the project,
usability, like correctness, is something that should be considered matter of
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ALL the participants to the project. Of course some usability restricted general
meeting will be important to homogenize the approach.
Second: usability has to be constantly checked and rechecked all over the
project. Initial decisions may be good, but a nice garden, if not cultivated, will
very soon be overrun by weeds!
Part of the problem comes from the fact that often usability is totally
outsourced, some rules and indication are asked at the beginning of the project
and, at best, some test is done at the end. Indication at the beginning are ok,
but not enough, check at the end will for sure end up in costly and time
Usability activities MUST be conducted all over the project life, from the paper
prototype to the final code all page must be checked for usability!
May be you may think to outsource the leadership of UX (User’s Experience)
Design, NOT usability, somebody may help you, but total outsourcing is a very
good way to get into a disaster.
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