Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ooching Towards Usability

You can't design a good user interface for a product up front.

The best user interfaces do typically start with an elegant preconceived concept. But achieving greatness requires going much further than the preconceived concept. Your designers must "ooch" towards usability.

Ooching towards usability means iteratively refining the interface to:

  • Optimally place the various UI elements.
  • Deal with every possible combination of user action.
  • Recognize as many so-called "user errors" as possible and turn them into valid actions.
In many cases, ooching is inelegant. It often requires heaping kludge on top of kludge to make sure your product covers all the special cases. And you'll have little idea what the most important special cases are unless you involve users in testing the product.

For a truly easy-to-use product, expect your designers to spend 80% of their design time after developers have developed an initial functional version of the product.

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