Its a vast world, 5 useability tips for developers

I’m excited to see that there is a new and untraveled world of blogging out there! So many things to learn, overcome and excel at! Its quite amazing that there is this untapped world of exploration I never knew was there… Until my position at Clearspring, my IT experience dealt primarily with the back end maintenance and server deployment. I never cared much about what was going on with the products or people that used them.

Now that my focus has shifted from back-end support, to customer-facing, social network, and web development, I have come to know a different kind of internet. One full of opinionated people, voicing themselves from all angles. Whether it be blogging, to journalism – both are not always intertwined because blogging is not always the best writing but is a medium non the less. Ive seen journalists bitch about bloggers and bloggers laugh at journalists mainly over who thinks their medium is the best and most “Credible”. Who cares, each his own I believe and what is the definition of credible anyways?

frustratedI was going to go into a citation of the definition of the word credible when I realized that a plug-in was in order. However, after about 45 minutes trying to figure out both cite-this and blockquote cite with no success, I decided that to give up on the whole thing for today and continue my troubleshooting tomorrow. Deciding to better use my time by talking about assumptions.

Its something that all of us do, especially those who know a great deal about a topic. Assuming that one knows how to do something based on some prior knowledge of the topic or problem at hand. This is most seen in the development and engineering community and is why positions like mine exist. If developers or engineers gave good directions there would be no need for technical support positions, but then again if the latter spent enough time thinking about the little things the larger developments wouldn’t be reached, hence the synergy between the 2. That still doesn’t excuse someone developing a tool online without actually trying to get someone who knows nothing about it try to use it first. Its quite easy, grab your mother or father and have them see if they can 1 understand your direction and 2 know what the product is even supposed to do without ever having used anything to do with your product.

Not everyone is a 300 level programmer – Wow reference – especially end users, and if you want to put out something that other people are going to use, a quick AND painful use study should be in order.

5 Useablity tips for developers:

  1. Have someone who knows nothing about your product walk through your documentation and make it work as expected. 95% of your documentations issues can be solved with this step.
  2. Pictures are worth a thousand words, everyone loves Sunday comics because of their simplicity and usage of pictures to convey and majority of the story.
  3. Assume your customer knows nothing even if the product is marketed to people who know everything. This will cut down on your “Help me” questions.
  4. Formulate a FAQ section that consist of not just frequently asked questions, but any question you think might be relevant. If its been asked one time then at least 10 more people have wondered but never asked!
  5. Lastly, drop the ego. We all know you are a magnificent and almighty programmer, but lets face it that attitude isn’t going to put $$ in your pocket and time back on your watch.

Sadly, the programmers of both plug-ins didn’t take some of the simplest questions in mind that many other great WP plug-in developers have. To those that did, Cheers!