Re: Completely intuitive software

Subject: Re: Completely intuitive software
From: Jim Shaeffer <jims -at- SPSI -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 17:04:56 -0400

Karen Peterson wrote:
"As a result of usability testing, I recommended that a
certain function be changed, because the users consistently did not
understand it. The overwhelming response from the developers was that it's
impossible to create software that's completely intuitive; the user must
read the manual."

A couple of questions came to my mind. (Note: I am doing a Lot of "reading
between the lines", but even if I am not accurate about Karen's situation, I
think the questions are valid ones for us to consider.)

1. What did the developers think they would be doing with the results of the
usability test?
2. More pointedly, did the developers sign off on the usability tests before
they were conducted? If developers are not prepared to make changes based on
the tests, should we be investing in such tests?
3. As others have said, being the user advocate is an honorable position.
Sometimes, usability loses to other considerations. I think those other
considerations are too important to be left to the developers or to the
technical writers. Isn't it management's role to referee these things?

Jim Shaeffer

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