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A Usability Engineer should reengineer this book., Feb. 6 2004
The main goal of usability engineering is creating the right interface for the right audience.
The target field (cf. the users) of this book are developers, every programmer should have a copy, is not?
A software package, which is unfriendly, laughing and bashing to its user, such a package would be considered as a computer program with a bad design. The user would not like to use it.
Now, I'm wondering why the so self-declared software design god of the modern times is bashing, laughing and unfriendly against the users of his product.
Mister Alan Cooper does not have a clue how a company works and what the background of a developer is all about. He is bashing the wrong people. Bad software interfaces are not the fault of the developer but the management and the methodologies that are used in most companies.
Developers are trained in schools and universities to produce code and to design the internal architecture. Few of them receive cognitive psychology courses, which is needed to create five star interfaces.
The average management in a company, small or big just allows that developers do the graphical interface design, a task for which they were not prepared. The outcome is indeed bad software but don't shoot the pianist, instead turn the spotlight on the choirmaster.
The content-worth of the book is average. It is heavily focusing on one aspect of creating better software interfaces: design guidelines.
While these guidelines are important, it is not enough to create excellent interfaces. The risk is that a developer, after finishing reading the book will think he or she knows everything about the job and this is not his or her fault but the author.
No words are spoiled by instance on User Profiles, Contextual Task Analysis and so many other aspects of user interface designing.
The design guidelines itself are mostly not new, I have read them long ago in other works and with some research you find them for free on the internet. Some guidelines-laws described in the book are even examples of bad designs, which is dangerous, at least in a way.
I can imagine that for an average programmer the book is still revealing, but he or she should know that other grasslands are much greener. Best case, you have a design guideline book, nothing more, nothing less.
I do not know I am allowed to do this, but if you want a real step-by-step guide for creating better software you should try "The Usability Engineering Lifecycle" by Deborah. J. Mayhew, also available on Amazon.