Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fixing bugs is not equivalent to fixing design.

Designing software like we design hardware ...

"I love cigars. I smoke about 1 per month as a treat. That may seem like nothing, but I really enjoy it. About 2/3 of the way through a good Rocky Patel, there is a moment of clarity. Greens become greener, blacks become richer and edges become sharper. A little Laphroaig doesn't hurt either. It is usually at this point that I come to some realization. Tonight that moment was defined by frustration regarding misconceptions of software design.

I evangelize design daily. I argue for the importance of good design, justifying the investment in time and resources to design and build smarter. But recently I was told a story about the iPhone that illustrates one of the sources of the cautiously skeptical expressions of many business executives that I meet with.

Hardware mistakes are expensive; software mistakes are (relatively) cheap!

According to one person, much more design and testing work went in to the hardware of the iPhone than the software, and the reason given was because it is much more expensive and unacceptable to ship defective hardware than it is to ship flaky, buggy software. (I cannot verify the accuracy of this claim and truly wish I had real data to support or deny this.)

At Dux2007 in Chicago, I attended a workshop where I asked the group why we don't design software like we do hardware? Why don't we spend more time in prototypes, mockups, etc. One of the attendees, a software designer... said "because it's cheap to fix software problems - all you have to do is make a download available that resolves the bugs." That's what so many executives are really thinking, aren't they? Build it, test it, get it out the door, and then ship fixes as necessary. Time to market, fix later.

And herein lies the mistake: fixing bugs is not equivalent to fixing design."    (Continued via Usability News, Dexo)    [Usability Resources]

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