If your software product’s user interface doesn’t support _____, or support them well — your data won’t include _____ in your access logs. You could think they don’t visit often enough to include them in your team’s decisions about the interface. Instead, you can focus on segments of the population based on device, browser, OS, language and location, or any other criteria you feel are important and worthy of attention. It’s simple: make it work for the majority.
This is a blind spot. I call it the bias of the absent visitor. Since they’ve never come by, you can easily fall into assuming they don’t want to or need to use your interface. You might think you can just ignore them safely.
The reality is that they might have stopped by once or many times, had a terrible and unwelcome first experience, and have never come back. They could have seen a blank, white page instead of your carefully crafted design and content. Might have even told their friends not to bother.
This is one of my biggest blind spots. I hope that writing it down will motivate me to remember that the absent visitor is just as valuable as the typical one.
Real life is complicated.
Even after we’ve tested all the important user flows and polished the edges in our app or site, people still stumble. Why? Because we’re humans, and because our products still have:
- Broken flows: transition points or interactions, like a form on a site, that aren’t working correctly.
- Content gaps: someone needs a specific piece of content, but you don’t have it—or it’s not in the right place at the right time.
- Pain points: people get hung up and are likely to abandon the site or app.
Making digital products friendly isn’t enough to make them feel human.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Design for Real Life from A Book Apart; the ebook is only $11.
Instead of treating stress situations as edge cases, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations—to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward.
The reasoning is simple: when we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.
Order Design for Real Life from abookapart.com. See also the WordPress.org Flow glossary for terms inspired by this book that we use in testing WordPress.
I am very pleased to announce that all of our e2e tests for the WordPress.com platform are open source as of this morning. This is following in the footsteps of the WordPress.com Calypso front-end which is also open source. I am continually reminded of how fortunate I am to work at Automattic who takes pride in its commitment […]
via WordPress.com e2e Automated Tests Now Open Source — WatirMelon
What would we build if we were starting from scratch today, knowing all we’ve learned over the past 13 years of building WordPress?
Matt today officially announced the new WordPress.com: Dance to Calypso.
Today we’re announcing something brand new, a new approach to WordPress, and open sourcing the code behind it. The project, codenamed Calypso, is the culmination of more than 20 months of work by dozens of the most talented engineers and designers I’ve had the pleasure of working with (127 contributors with over 26,000 commits!).
Shop Class as Soulcraft is a thought-provoking essay about the future of manual labor, work, and craftsmanship by Matthew B. Crawford in New Atlantis.
The craftsman’s habitual deference is not toward the New, but toward the distinction between the Right Way and the Wrong Way. However narrow in its application, this is a rare appearance in contemporary life…
While I heartily agree with this sentiment, in this piece Crawford seems to lump everything computer related into “information systems” as a departure from manual craftsmanship, and ignores a bit the manual craft of making software. It can be very much a manual job in the sense that you type the code into an editor and make it run. And isn’t just plug-and-play necessarily. Though some systems (cough, .NET) do encourage GUI-based software development. A true hand-coder I think is just as much a craftsperson as someone building a wooden table.
But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.
My version of this is: “Does the website work?” It needs to work, especially on my phone, and load fast everywhere. My kind of heuristic.
The essay points out the permanence of certain goods: it is easier to achieve a long-lasting product with hand-made goods, probably, such as furniture or motorcycles or cars. A website is obsolete almost the moment you launch it. It probably won’t outlive you. A well-made table could live hundreds of years.
The concluding words are a great takeaway:
So what advice should one give to a young person? By all means, go to college. In fact, approach college in the spirit of craftsmanship, going deep into liberal arts and sciences. In the summers, learn a manual trade. You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information systems. To heed such advice would require a certain contrarian streak, as it entails rejecting a life course mapped out by others as obligatory and inevitable.
Via Yegor M.
Software developer—and former technical writer—Jim Grey gives advice to technical writers looking to stay in software as a focus on user experience (UX) replaces the need for technical writers.
Software technical writing is a dying career (but here’s what writers can do to stay in the software game) | Stories from the Software Salt Mines.
…the writing is on the wall. If you’re not finding fewer technical writing job openings yet, you will soon. Fortunately, your skills transfer to other jobs in software development organizations. You will need to build some new skills for many of these jobs, but you might be able to land that first new job without them and build them as you work.
New roles suggested include testing and quality assurance, product management, and UX/design.
…I think this trend toward effective UX is better for the user, and gives writers good paths for growth.
I love these tips and specific role descriptions. I’d say this advice applies to anyone who loves writing and documentation and wants to move into product design and development.
(Technical side notes: I found this post via the WordPress.com Reader’s suggested blogs to follow. I then posted it to this site using the Press This function in WordPress, called “WordPress Post” under Advanced Settings in the new WordPress.com interface. Screenshot example.)
Tucson-based web developer nerd Daniel Bishop wanted to test sites on multiple devices at once. So, he built a thing to do that. Awesomesauce.