Geek Smithology

August 16, 2006

Usability in Real Life

Filed under: Craft of Dev,Industry by Nathan @ 8:10 pm

It may bruise our raging developer egos, but here’s the thing: users don’t care how smart we are. They don’t care how sweet our technology is, and they don’t care how intuitive our application is. They do care about what they can accomplish.

Amazon does not have the coolest web store interface out there (not even close.) But I know that I can go from thinking hmmm, I want a copy of Agile Retrospectives to having it ordered in under two minutes. So I don’t go anywhere else.

Another site I spend a lot of time on (I’m an online shopping junkie – where’s the support group?) is eBay, and when an innocent search turned up no results, I was pleasantly surprised by the ensuing screen, which I present here:

What tickled me pink (manly pink, of course)? Well…

    • The results of the search are highlighted
      Rather than a generic try other search terms, it illustrates (with a nice strikethrough effect) permutations of my search terms
      It lets me access any of these alternative searches with a single click
      It asks me if I want an email when there are results for my search
  • No ads. No push your browser’s back button and try again. No maybe you want this instead. I was trying to find something, and eBay is doing its darnedest to help me find it. The result? Stickiness. Ergo today’s moral:

    Users want to get things done. The software that gets out of the way and helps them get it done wins.

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