I spent a couple hours tonight helping a colleague stress test the user interface for a web hosting control panel, using cPanel. Amazing how my product design/methodology schooling came on like Spidey-sense. Some quick notes:
- User interface is often about REMOVING elements and simplifying steps. Less mouse clicks, less keyboard entries, less words to explain anything.
- It’s better to give the customer LESS OPTIONS and have him accomplish 1 thing very quickly than give him dozens of options and have him NOT be able to accomplish anything at all. Apple has made a fortune with this philosophy.
- The biggest favor you can do for a developer is try to BREAK his system at the beginning as much as possible. Pretend you know nothing about computers and just click away. It’s much better than being surprised later when the pain comes from disgruntled customers, and by that time it’s too late.
- Patience is a virtue but not when you’re pretending to be a customer. To do worst-case testing, you need to be IMPATIENT, SKIM through the instructions, and NOT PAY ATTENTION to what you’re doing. This is what REAL PEOPLE do when they interact with technology.