SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] UI for the $150 Laptop (OLPC)
Re: [Sigia-l] UI for the $150 Laptop (OLPC)
In my experience, approach matters. What I mean by that is "the way
designers approach developers" matters. Taking the attitude that
developers simply don't have the skills, talent, or intelligence to do
good design is condescending and in many cases, mistaken.
In my practice, I've assumed that developers are very smart, but very
busy. They could probably do good UI design, if they didn't already have
enormous time, budget, and complexity constraints to work against, and
if they didn't have to maintain a very geeky, engineer-type mentality
*just to stay on top of their game*.
Coding is *hard*, and most coders worth their salt are very smart. So I
treat my developers as "distracted peers". I involve them in design
discussion, I get involved in their technical challenges, and it pays.
It works. I can show them a design, and describe the UX imperatives
behind the design choices, and once they understand why such and such is
important for the user, they become user advocates as stalwart and
dedicated as I am.
I've been both an IA/UX and a developer, at times. One thing I can say
is that when *I* was faced with deadlines, clients, and the irreductible
complexity of code, most of my good UX intentions also went out the
window. I started justifying bad design choices to myself, just because
that was the only way out of impossible situations. It's a perverse kind
of pressure. And that's the main reason why UX and development should be
done by different people. Not because programmers can't do it (many
can), but because it's a conflict of interest to have to be the user
advocate and the system advocate at the same time. It requires different
My developers also recognize this. They're glad that someone has the
time to figure out what users really need, and gives them clear
requirements to code against. But that only happened after I was able to
demonstrate that I understand how hard their job is, that I understand
the pain my requests might cause, and that I have very good reasons for
making those requests.
This is why, in my view, developer-bashing is counter-productive. There
is usually friction because we are focused on different things. To me,
the right approach is compromise: I'll help you understand where I'm
coming from (my user personas and their goals), and I'll work hard to
understand where you're coming from (DB schema, code architecture).
To me, UX requires "compassion for all sentient beings", developers
Antoine Valot | Senior Information Architect | INS | Cell:
303.995.5618 | Email: antoine.valot_at_ins.com
From: sigia-l-bounces_at_asis.org [mailto:sigia-l-bounces_at_asis.org] On
Behalf Of Ziya Oz
Generally speaking, developers just don't have the training, experience,
sensibilities, taste and aesthetics inclinations required. Good software
has three ingredients, roughly in equal measure: technology, business
and design. Usually, developers have only the first; experienced
designers should have all three.
I don't want to pick on this person, looks like he's young and,
apparently, it's his first VB project. But it amply illustrates the
The developer thinks this is great UI. Read the slogan on top of his
"The easy to use Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the powerful
Nullius in Verba
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: Fri Dec 01 2006 - 17:04:28 EST