But I shouldn't have to!

It amazes me sometimes how dismissive developers and advanced computer users can be of issues people have with applications. For example, FireFox 3.5 came out and Frans Bouma is reporting uncomfortably long start-up times on his blog. Now, I haven’t run FF3.5 myself and therefore can’t comment on my own experience running it, but I want to talk about a trend I’m noticing in the comments on that post.

Quite a number of people think it is acceptable to say things along the lines of “well, you should just clear out your cache”. Well, no. He shouldn’t. There is absolutely no reason for a user to change the way they work to accomodate an application as common and replaceable as a browser. For that matter, there should never be a reason to accomodate any finicky application, but I can see how in some niche markets that could be unavoidable. This is a problem in user experience design that seems to be quite prevalent, especially in the realm of open source development.

In a similar vein are posts on Coding Horror and bitquabit, calling out calling out developers for claiming a complex site like StackOverflow is “trivial”. Guess what, folks? As developers, we should be paying more attention to user experience, testing more scenarios, and not dismissing bad experience reports with nothing but a “oh, you should just use it the way we do and then it’s great”. It is naturally impossible to please everyone, but opting to use algorithms that do not depend on a state of the user’s system that’s completely outside the developer’s control seems to me a good start in the “consistent experience” direction.

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. I could not agree more with your observation and insistence that user experience should be considered in software development. As a developer from way back it’s been my opinion that the entire move to GUI has lost much in user experience (particularly in business applications) over the now outdated green screen application.

    Sometimes, the more we move forward, the more we are really moving in reverse. It is refreshing to know that there is at least one young developer that sees this as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: