Joel Spolsky on Usability in One Easy Step

I don’t like to post a link to someone else’s blog or web site without having a good reason.  Joel Spolsky of FogCreek Software and the popular Joel on Software web site recently posted about usability.  His post goes hand-in-hand with my post about product complexity from yesterday.

Joel has a book out on user interface design and his company’s software, FogBugz, has a beautiful user interface that is truly “usable”.  I think his post is worth a read.


3 responses to “Joel Spolsky on Usability in One Easy Step

  1. Yikes. Know your audience. What if your software has to service two different groups of users with differing expectations? What if you are designing software in a domain where there are no expectations? It begs the question, “whose expectations?” For a more complete disection of where Joel goes wrong, read

  2. Yikes! This is a load of garbage. Your view is EXACTLY what is wrong with most software today. You think you need to gather all these use cases and process them to create a document how YOU see the software working.

    Too much software is created by people who think they know how the process works by reading a bunch of books by people who can only theorize how users need to be treated.

    Joel is right just by your example. Give me a break

  3. I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that I “gather all these use cases and process them to create a document how I see the software working.”

    For that matter, that sounds so generic — gather requirements, then synthesize them into a document on how you see the software working — that it could apply to just about any process, including those advocated by Joel.

    Do I read books? Sure I read books, magazines, articles; I listen to fellow software developers; I listen to designers and managers; I listen to users; I reflect on my own 18 years of software development experience — both successes and failures — in the hopes of becoming better at delivering good software in a wide variety of domains, on time and on budget. So, guilty as charged.

    Just to add a wrinkle: once upon a time I used Solaris and Mac exclusively (Win 3.1 days). The Mac was much easier to use than Windows because it met my expectations. Somewhere along the way I switched. Now I use WinXP and Linux. WinXP is much easier to use than Mac because it meets my expectations. What has changed? Yes, yes, Windows isn’t as much of a piece of crap as it used to be, but mostly my expectations have changed. Give me a years using the Mac exclusively and my expectations will have changed again.

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