Skip to main content

Language and Usability

In commenting on a recent blog entry, Kevin Brennan gave an example of a requirement:

"the user interface will be available in English, French, and Spanish"

Kevin's point was to illustrate how some requirements are testable but not quantifiable, since "quantifiable" implies numeric measurement. I understand and agree with his point. "English", "French", and "Spanish" are not numbers :-)

However, I wanted to digress a bit and further evaluate his example of a requirement. His example strikes me more as a design decision than a requirement.

Why would a stakeholder want the user interface to be available in any of those languages? What problem does it solve to make the user interface available in those languages? The problem it solves is making sure that the target market is able to use the product. Presumably, the target market includes a substantial number of English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking people.

The real requirement is to make the product usable by these people. Usability requirements typically include profiles of various types of users. Instead of specifying that the user interface must be available in various languages, the requirements should simply include language-speaking characteristics in the user profiles. The product must satisfy the usability requirements for these users.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Interaction Design: the Neglected Skill

Your product development organization has a big, gaping hole in it. (Be prepared to feel defensive as you continue reading.) One of the most important roles in product development is the role of interaction designer. An interaction designer designs how the users will interact with the product and conceptualize the tasks they perform. He decides whether, for example, the user interface will be command driven, object oriented (clicking on objects then specifying what to do with them), or wizard based. The interaction designer decides the individual steps in the use cases. Every company has one or more people that play the interaction designer role. Usually, those people have little or no expertise in interaction design. Sadly, they typically don't even realize how unqualified they are. Let's see who typically plays the role at companies. Engineer . An engineer is an expert on building what is designed. Yes, an engineer may know how to design the internal structure of the hardware