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TUESDAY, 05 JUNE 2012 13:56

Function vs Usability: Who’s the boss?

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Turn It Up to 11

Since developers first began writing applications for users, there has existed a battle Royale of Function vs. Usability.  The developers tend to assume Users are able to intuit more than they do and Users are amazed that developers don’t think what they want to do is important enough to justify the cost of implementation. 

The reality is both parties have valid points.  However, in a capitalist culture, adoption by users greatly outweighs the pure cost based decisions of the developers.  I have both written and used some of the most elegantly designed systems only to see them fail due to lack of use.  I have argued that a particular reference or process flow was both redundant and unnecessary only to add it at a later date exactly the way it was requested.  You don’t have to hit me in the head with a 2x4 more than a dozen times for me to learn my lesson.  The world of applications is truly ruled by users, this is why Apple has been so successful, there technology actually does both, providing usability in an elegant package.  Facebook and Twitter also design, at least outwardly, for the user, with mass adaption justifying the expense of technical complexity and implementation. 

This is why Marketing has become such an important business innovation driver.  Understanding and representing the Voice of the Customer leads to innovation that generationally improves user experience and creates new needs. So what if Nigel Tufnel thinks his amplifier volume control that goes to 11 is louder than one with a maximum range of 10. What matters is that he thinks it is and therefore will spend the extra money to own it.  It has taken a long time but I think the developers of today are realizing this fact, accepting it and enjoying the success that is brought from user adoption.

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