Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How I Learned To Live With Bugs and Workarounds

A reader took me to task on a recent blog post I made where I ranted about how bugs and workarounds shouldn't be acceptable or "a way of life".

Patrick Neeman at Usability Counts made two valid points in his response to my post that resonated with me:

  1. Test early and test often
  2. We live in a beta test world
These two things, among other strategies, will help mitigate usability issues. 

The best example, currently, of living in a beta test world is Google Chrome.  Companies like Google make no bones about the condition of their applications as they are developing them and preparing them for a final release.  It's clearly in Beta - it even says so on the download page.  I'm even using a beta version of the blogging platform I'm using to write this very post.  Believe me, it's far from perfect.  However, the strategy is to let the users be the testers and give them the opportunity to take a form of ownership in the application's further development.

There's nothing wrong with this strategy and I often encourage it among the people I work with.  My point is if the business conditions allow it, do upfront due diligence to make sure the application you are putting out there has a minimal number of bugs, errors and usability issues.  Having these problems only hurts end user performance, if you are expecting them to use the application right away.  A buggy application only slows people down and keeps them from the work they intend to do leveraging the application.

I appreciate Patrick's feedback and I appreciate his willingness to let me comment to his post.  Lesson learned for me is to not vent and blog at the same time!

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