Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things should "Just Work"

The general idea behind this blog is to share observations and ideas about products of all kinds that don't "just work" the way they should. In some cases, I'm actively involved in a community related to the products I write about and I'm also submitting my ideas to the manufacturer, but in many other cases, I am not involved in such a community or have any standing to allow my comments to rise about the noise so I choose to write about them here. If anything I write here contributes to better products in the world, I'll be pleased. Other than that hope, this blog is just an outlet for me to direct my thoughts and occasional frustration with how some products or individual features in a product just miss the mark.

In general, I think that things of all kinds should "just work" the way the user expects them to work. And, when things don't work for the user, they should tell the user clearly what went wrong and what their options are for changing/fixing things. I know from designing software myself for many years that making things "just work" for nearly any type of user is a ton of work to do it well. It's one thing to make a product work if a user follows a given set of steps in the appropriate sequence and never makes any mistakes. But making it just work for a user who has no idea how it's supposed to work or what sequence things should go in and makes lots of mistakes is perhaps 10x more work than the first way.

In many cases, I think things that "just work" are what distinguishes "great" products from "good" products. There are "good" products that succeed for other reasons (like Adobe Photoshop, for example), but even they could be so much more successful if they were great.

Anyway, the following posts will be comments on products that aren't as good as they could be and why.

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