Home > User Experience > If all you have is a hammer…

If all you have is a hammer…

Another entry in an occasional series of short posts on the topic of  ‘the user experience’.

Disclaimer: As always,  these are my own thoughts and ideas and are posted here purely for my own satisfaction and use. It should not be assumed that these reflect in any way upon my employer.

There’s an old saying that says “If all you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail”. As programmers I think we sometimes fall into the trap of  thinking that the solution to every problem involves program code.

I am sure that in many if not most cases, this is true but it’s not always the ONLY answer. Don’t forget that if you add more function or more configuration options to your product, or add some sort of utility program to ‘help’ with it in some way, you are also adding to the complexity for the consumer, not to mention the possibility of more things going wrong.

If you think you need to add code/function/options/whatever to a product I think you should ask yourself the following questions first:

  • What impact will this have on the consumer?
    • Additional configuration options.
    • Added complexity to install,configure and/or use.
    • Extending  the learning curve (leading to a longer time before the user is productive)
  • Is there a better way to do this?
    • Packing/delivery options
    • Doc changes/simplification
    • Rethink the problem so I don’t need this.

Remember, you are for the most part producing a ‘tool’. We like to call ourselves software engineers but really we are just tool makers. We create tools that ‘should’ make peoples lives easier and simpler or at least make them more productive by making the task the tool is intended to solve, simpler to complete.

If we fail in those areas our users (customers) will simply find a better tool.

Categories: User Experience
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