Posts Tagged ‘ design ’

Changing Shoes For A Redesign

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The best way to rethink things is to be in the shoes of your users. Use your app how they use your app. Try to take a fresh look at your application like you’ve never seen it before. Would you change the location of the menu/navigation? Would you change the actual menus/navigation? Would you add a shortcut search box where there wasn’t one before? Maybe you remove the advertising or move the place that the ads are located so that they are less intrusive…

The idea is that every so often you need to take a step back. Looking at your application from your users perspective may well change how your entire application works. I’m not saying this from a statistical analysis of the way people click and heatmaps and all that good stuff (though they do have their applications), I’m saying just a pure usability test from another perspective. Where do the new users look? Where do they click? What’s the first thing they want to go to? Are you putting them through information overload?

So take a step back, change shoes and take a fresh look at your app. No statistics, no heatmaps, no preconceived notions about the problem you are trying to solve (I know this is easier said than done). Just remember why you wrote your app in the first place. Try the passion on for size again and see if that doesn’t stir things up a bit.

Designing Towards The User

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Any Systems Administrator who hasn’t heard of Tom Limoncelli should probably do some reading. His latest blog post ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ or ‘Sysadmins at the Keyboard’? over at Everything Sysadmin talks about how sometimes the time spent on designing a product or interface could have been better spent if the organization had just spoken to the people who will actually be *using* the systems.

Those of us that actually do the administering of systems and “grew up” without the GUI for the most part, feel more comfortable in the command line environment. Even when I have to fix something in Windows as simple as networking, the first thing I do is open up a command terminal and type ipconfig /renew. All the time that Microsoft spent developing the end user networking GUI was for nothing when dealing with a user like me. But then again, most users that use Windows aren’t like me. And the time Microsoft spent creating the interface was well spent.

The issues come in when someone like Cisco spends hundreds of thousands of dollars writing interfaces for something like the ASAs (which is actually an excellent GUI as far as GUIs go) and most people who deal with ASAs use the command line. I do most of my Cisco work directly using the command line within IOS. All the *nix machines I administer (which is actually quite a few more than I would like to think about at times), I don’t install any of the GUIs. I do everything via the trusty old command line and I know a lot of others do the same.

Even taking this so far as the development world. Even when I write code, I do so using vim on the command line and not an overkill IDE like Eclipse. Even the long time developers and engineers at my company use the command line when given the opportunity. Now this isn’t to say that GUIs don’t have their place, since they certainly do make some tasks, easier, faster, etc. But the fact remains that companies like Cisco will make these GUIs that costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop/test/deploy/maintain, when the majority of the people that use it usually just want a solid debugging tool where they don’t have to keep clicking over and over (as Tom notes).