Thursday, April 26, 2007

Web 2.0 Lessons Applied to Development?

I just read a blog post from RailsEnvy on some Web 2.0 Expo Wisdom and it got me thinking if some of the points listed couldn't just as easily apply to software development...

"7. The average user is typically below average. Anything you ask a user to do will require skill. Your typical user always feels like an idiot. In any design, you need to ensure users feel competent from the get go."

Now I'm not saying all your collagues are idiots, but they might not be a rocket scientist like you. Think about others when you code. Simple things like naming sensibly...

"8. Nobody reads the manual. Most console game controllers have 16-18 controls/buttons, but are so simple that you can play through the entire game without reading the manual at all. Games make heavy use of affordances, meaning that activities should do what you expect them to do. In other words, make sure things are intuitive."

Same as before. If it's intuitive, then it'll likely be less buggy. Noone likes "intuitive after a while..." type code

"10. Stay consistent. When users interact with software, they’re building a mental model of how it works. If you have a widget in two different places and it doesn’t do the same thing, it will get reported as a bug."

This is the argument for the ever unpopular coding conventions. No one likes something cramping their style, but if we all have an idea of what to expect, then we're all more productive...

"11. Allow people to show their personality. If someone is able to personalize their profile or avatar, they are going to be more emotionally connected to the website."

... and the converse to the point above. Don't go over the top. Developers aren't machines. Let us express themselves occasionally!

"12. If you have any sort of ranking system or ladder system on your website, be sure to reset it every month. No one likes systems where the “Rich get Richer.”"

Just as no one likes a smart ass. Sure, let the PM's get their complete stats, but share the love. We all like to be appreciated for what we're good at.

To sum up, as a wise man once said, "it all comes down to the people", and it does. Bear this in mind and make everyone's lives easier during development.

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