Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Technologist Manifesto..., or Things Everyone in IT Should Know

Great guidlines for building a good user experience...

"The best business solution is not always the best technology solution. The burden is on you, the technologist, to make the best system the business will use. There are two basic types of processes in business: physical and logical. Physical requires the proximity of two or more objects which must interact; like someone to load a crate onto a barge. Logical means it can be done anywhere with an acceptable network connection (like invoicing the loaded barge).

The only point of IT is to improve physical operations by providing efficiencies and reducing logical operations by providing automation. This is true in the Ingram Barge Company and for the Xbox 360.

Bad Technology is Your Fault

"Build it and they will come" is a great line for a movie, but a horrible way to make IT decisions.

Lex I: Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare. -- in other words, a user at rest would rather stay at rest than do extra work.

When (not if) a user asks "This sounds like a lot of extra work, how will it make my life easier?" you have an opportunity to evaluate your career progression.
If your answer is something akin to "It's policy, you have to do it or you'll get fired." then I hope you're drinking your Red Bull from a sippy cup, Junior.

If your answer is more like asking the question "Why is it so hard to use?" then you may be ready for big boy underwear.

This is the single most critical moment in your career, because this will show if you really understand Garbage In, Garbage Out or not. If you don't, keep surfing the web for the latest widget that you can show your peers and convince them that the whole project needs to be rewritten to use this widget, damn the deadlines. If you do understand GIGO, congratulations, move on to the next part.

Users aren't Born Stupid, You Train Them to be That Way

"Why do those idiots keep hitting that button?" is heard in IT shops much more frequently than "Why don't we get rid of that button?"

Why? Because we are smarter than they are. That's why we're in IT.

How many times have you been annoyed at a website for the number of *Required fields you had to fill out before you could proceed? Now imagine going to that website 200 times a day and having to fill out all those damned *Required fields. Now you start to get an idea of what users go thru when you roll out your flashy new system with all the ooh ahs everyone loved in the demos. There's a good reason "lakjdlaksdjlaskdjlaskdj" is found in so many databases: users have to type SOMETHING to move on."   continued ...   (Via ITtoolbox)

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