Sunday, December 31, 2006

Don't make the Demo look Done

The more complete the draft to less the feedback ...

"When we show a work-in-progress (like an alpha release) to the public, press, a client, or boss... we're setting their expectations. And we can do it one of three ways: dazzle them with a polished mock-up, show them something that matches the reality of the project status, or stress them out by showing almost nothing and asking them to take it "on faith" that you're on track.

The bottom line:
How 'done' something looks should match how 'done' something is.

Every software developer has experienced this many times in their career. But desktop publishing tools lead to the same headache for tech writers--if you show someone a rough draft that's perfectly fonted and formatted, they see it as more done than you'd like. We need a match between where we are and where others perceive we are.

Joel Spolsky talked about this way back when in The Iceberg Secret, Revealed. The secret:

"You know how an iceberg is 90% underwater? Well, most software is like that too -- there's a pretty user interface that takes about 10% of the work, and then 90% of the programming work is under the covers... That's not the secret.

The secret is that People Who Aren't Programmers Do Not Understand This."

He goes on to add corollaries including:
"If you show a nonprogrammer a screen which has a user interface that is 90% worse, they will think that the program is 90% worse."

and

"If you show a nonprogrammer a screen which has a user interface which is 100% beautiful, they will think the program is almost done."

You'll have to read the rest to get the other corollaries, and to see where else he takes the topic."    (Continued via Creating Passionate Users)    [Usability Resources]

Managing Expectations - Usability, User Interface Design

Managing Expectations

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