Monday, April 18, 2011


Geeks, rejoice!

I am going to this USABILITY WEEK 2011 conference, and I am not ashamed to say that I'm so excited about it. Don Norman, the head honcho of Usability 2011 actually set up the usability lab at my company (well, my company three incarnations ago in 1998).

Being a usability expert is the worst job in the entire world. The majority of the time the job title "Usability Expert" is synonymous with the job title "You Can Decide Not To Believe Me If You Want, But The Fact Is, Ten Hours of Footage Show That Indeed 87 Percent of Users Mistook Your New Disk Drive For A Coffee Cup Holder."

It takes a special person to be a usability expert. Here are some points that illustrate the worldview of a good usability person.

1. People deserve the best and I want to help them get the best because I love people.

2. Everybody has worth and everybody's opinions have worth.

3. Even the most hopeless things can get better with the right feedback.

4. I believe my eyes.

5. One day somebody will listen to me and believe me and do exactly what I think they should.

6. I hear what you're saying, even though it sounds insane. I withhold judgment.

7. No matter what you say or do, my face will stay exactly like this page of computer code. And why is that? Uh huh. Which part in particular was like that for you?

8. Everything is right in the universe, or at least the universe of testing.

This is why I'm a designer. Here's my worldview.

1. People deserve the best--to a point. I want to please people, and I want to try to give people the very best but, in the end, if they don't appreciate and like and understand what I am giving them, then they deserve something that's worse than they already have--or, at the very least, nothing.

2. Some people have worth and those same people have opinions that have worth.

3. Some designs are shit. You can shine a turd if you like that sort of thing but I don't.

4. What the hell just happened there? There is just no way that the simplest explanation explains THAT. I'm obviously witnessing a great anomaly. This scene has strange and uncommon attachments which will later be revealed.

5. Nobody ever listens to me. I see that you are listening--but in total disbelief for some reason. Why is nobody ever on my program? It doesn't make sense because I'm so smart.

6. Given W, X, and Y, why would ANYBODY decide that Z is the best way to proceed!?"

7. Eye brow scrunch. Eyebrow raise. Mouth open. Askance look, left eye facing subject. Nobody is this stupid. I refuse to believe that there are more of you. In fact, I refuse to believe in YOU. You are performance art.

8. We called in the wrong people to test. The users should have been more techie. The users should have been more Masters level than B.A. The test was set up wrong. We should have done the interview THEN observed. We should have skipped both the interview and the observation.

With the help of this conference, I hope to change my worldview to be more user-friendly.

Given my current worldview, I have doubts that my worldview is capable of such change. But my company is paying for this conference, not me, so what do I have to lose?

I love people! That's my pre-conference mantra/pep-talk.

On that note, I leave you with YOU KNOW THAT I COULD USE SOMEBODY. I am a romantic and that sentiment, I think you will agree, is one very romantic sentiment.


  1. "List" is one of my favorite literary forms, and both of yours kick ass. Additionally, so does this song, which gets in my head and stays there forever whenever I hear it (or, apparently, even see its name used in a blog post title). Thanks for all three.

  2. I love lists too!--even non-literary ones that are in my head.