Re: Question about Programmers and Usability

Subject: Re: Question about Programmers and Usability
From: Alessandro Bottoni <bottoni -at- CADLAB -dot- IT>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 10:26:40 +0100

Regarding programmer's attitude against software usability:

- Programmers focus on programming (languages, algorithms, programming
techniques and so on). This is an highly demanding task that leave very
little time and energy to other concerns.

- Programmers expect that somebody else will take care of the GUI design,
the analysis of the user's needs and so on. They often think that this is an
high-level concern, very near to the market-strategy level. They feel that
this kind of decision have to be taken by market specialists and managers,
not by programmers. They expect that market analysts and HCI specialist will
tell them how to make software to comply with the user needs. IMO, they are

- Too often, company managers decide to not have HCI specialists devoted to
GUI design and usability analysis, both to save money and because they are
convinced that programmers have the education required to take upon
themselves this high-level task (and will be happy to do it). With this kind
of strategic decisions, many managers show that they have not understood at
all the role of programmers and the nature of their knowledge.

- As a net result, nobody takes charge of this crucial aspect of software
design, and we have the software that we can see...

IMHO, this situation is due more to short-sighted managers than to lazy

By the way, in Italy we have one more problem: our high schools and
universities almost ignore GUI design, usability and all the related topics.
The focus is strict on algorithms and programming languages. As long as I
can see from my point of view on Internet, in USA you have a tradition of
university-level studies in this field and companies can find real
specialists on the market. In Italy it would be much harder...

Given this sad situation, TWs can actually help programmers very much to
make user-friendly GUIs, and managers should aknowledge it.

Alessandro Bottoni
Technical Writer
Cad.Lab SPA
Bologna - Italy

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