Saturday, 19 January 2008

Usability. 16 things to avoid.

Why do we write software? Aside from the obvious "we get paid to do so" and "I just love that caffeine-induced kick when it builds man!", we build software because other people need it.

It's an overstated fact, but everywhere you turn now there's software servicing people and helping people out. This is great! What still surprises me, though, is how badly designed much of it is. I'm not talking about software architecture, I'm talking about usability and interface design. Let's face it, some of what's out there is just shocking.

A colleague of mine sent me two links to articles (part 1 and part 2) about 16 things to avoid when designing the registration or sign-up process for a web site. It's a really good read and there are quite a few "oh-no-they-didn't!" moments.

Personally, when it comes to sign-up/registration I would want more retailers to allow people to shop without registering. Sure, I can understand that all that registration data makes for wonderful marketing information - but it's such a hassle to register when all you want from a retailer is a single product that you choose to purchase from that particular retailer solely because it's cheaper than at any other retailer.

Anyway, rant over. This year is about making better software and that doesn't just mean software that's faster, more maintainable, and well structured. It's about software that's usable to the people that matter: the customers and end-users.


Anonymous said...

We've all seen terrible examples of sites requiring all kinds of information before they'll let you get at what you want (whether that be buying something from them, or access to their forums or whatever), but somehow this doesn't seem to put off the marketing people from forcing implementation of data harvesting. Makes me wonder if they've ever used anyone else's website or not?

Øyvind Valland said...

I would simply remark that I think it would be nice to be able to shop as easily online as it is at your local corner shop. Pick something off the shelf, pay for it, and leave. "Every" online store should offer that kind of checkout facility in addition to the more typical account sign-up.