Re: Having Your Style Guide and Eating Your Fries Too

Subject: Re: Having Your Style Guide and Eating Your Fries Too
From: "MMdeaton" <mmdeaton -at- mmdeaton -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 14:38:21 -0700

I am a little confused, David. When you speak of " "Fourth Generation,"
iterative, user-centered
development processes," exactly which processes are you speaking of?

I ask because your next statement, "..we don't know what the user's need."
is what confuses me. Are you proposing that spending time defining user
needs before you code is bad? Are you suggesting that "user-centered
development processes" do not begin with user profiles and user
requirements? That somehow you cannot know what the users need until you've
written code?

That perspective is a very dangerous one, in my mind. User-centered design
does not mean code or write a bunch of stuff, put it out there, ask the
users if they like it, and then recode or rewrite it. It does mean following
a process that includes a variety of steps throughout the development cycle.

But it begins with analysis of the user and the tasks they need to
accomplish. Everything after that is to validate your original findings and
make mid-course corrections. The analysis time is the most critical part of
the process and ought to take as much as one-third of the overall project
schedule. No code should be written until user requirements are final.

The best visualization of this process that I have ever seen is a poster
done by the Usability Professionals Association. You can find a Web version
at It lays out very clearly what the process of
designing user experience ought to be. My experience says if more
development teams followed this process, there would be many fewer bad Web
sites and bad software out there.

Mary Deaton
(206) 323-0701
News, opinion, articles at

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Orr" <dorr -at- ORRNET -dot- com>
> If the anti-standards/processes people are opposed to spending vast
> of time creating standards and style guides BEFORE doing any writing, they
> have a point. So-called "Fourth Generation," iterative, user-centered
> development processes recognize that people often don't know what's needed
> on a project until they get into it a bit. Especially, we don't know what
> the user's need.


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