Lessons from our Usability Study: Part I
The most educational part of the original Graphing Calculator 1.0 development process was sitting behind a two-way mirror for five days watching first-time users, students and teachers, trying to use our software. It was a humbling and enlightening experience. Anyone doing any aspect of software development: engineering, design, support, documentation, as well as user interface folks, should be subjected to the experience. Though the our study was done with version 1.0 way back in 1993 many of the lessons we learned were timeless.
Two recent blog posts bring one particular lesson to mind. Coding Horror warns This Is What Happens When You Let Developers Create UI and Arno Gourdol discusses The Design of the Mac OS X Shutdown Feature:
It is the job of the software designer to make choices on behalf of the user. That's what designing is all about.