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The Human Factor

There is a fundamental difference in how technologists and true designers approach making products. Technical people tend to start with technologies. We take teams of developers, build a technology, and then shoehorn a user interface and a user experience onto the framework dictated by the technology. This guarantees that the user experience will be a poor compromise. The product won't be designed for use, it will be designed as a ship vehicle for a package of technologies. It's a value proposition: We behave as if it's more important for technologies to be shipped than for products to be used. What great products are designed this way? Do master chefs wait until the last minute to figure out how the food will taste to their customers? Do tailors measure their clients after the suit has been sewn together?

A good craftsperson in any trade understands that people will consume their work, and every decision is made with that type of person in mind. Software or Web development is no different. The people who go to restaurants or movies are the same ones who use our products. We need to cultivate an interest in how products in other fields are developed, and how they achieve the results that they do. Makers of automobiles, CD players, and appliances all have the same challenge of balancing engineering, business, and usability, except they've been doing it a lot longer than we have. We can learn a lot from their successes and failures, and by recognizing the differences in approaches they use.


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