Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Lot to Think About

I know you all are probably already down with Creating Passionate Users but I just wound my way over to this blog, and it's like a usability textbook written in an engaging casual voice. I'm a developer who works on the fringes of the core development environment in my office (not just because I'm working from 2,000 miles away, but because my projects are sometimes maybe possibly treated like red-headed stepchildren because they're not explicitly part of the core application that our office creates and maintains). I'm also a fringe element because I'm a bit of a ringer, programming-wise: I have a degree in music history, and I've come into the programming realm through a random assortment of week-long classes in various things that I've needed to get the job done at the moment. I'm a jack-of-many-trades, and, honestly, a master of only one: understanding what people are trying to do with software.

Yes, I've got people skills, godammit. I talk to the customers so the godamn engineers don't have to deal with them.

That said, I think that spending time actively thinking about how you bridge the gap between end user desires ("I want it to email the fifteen thousand people I'm imagining in my head, and can it toast my muffins, too?") is time well-spent. It's easy to get jaded about your customers (they're pesky, cranky, demanding, prone to calling your boss when they don't like the answer they got from you) and become more enamoured of your application (it's your shining achievement, all that code you wrote compiled right and actually runs, you love all your menu categories and you worked really hard on it).

The fact is that everything we do should help people get something done. And Creating Passionate Users is, at its heart, about making things that cause human beings to be happy while they're doing the things they need to do using computers.

I'm a person. I use computers. I want to be happy, too.

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