Monday, September 8, 2008

Usability Soapbox: Bugs and Workarounds Should Never Be Acceptable

Forgive the rant, but I'm speaking from experience.  When it comes to technology in business, I believe do it right or don't do it at all.

Over the years, and especially in recent months, I have encountered many proprietary applications not ready for their debut and falling short of their expectations.  Good intentions are there but the applications rolled out to the end-users with much fanfare, who are expected to use them and leverage them to their advantage in their daily work, fall flat.  Instead of full functionality, speed and efficiency, end-users encounter bugs, slow downs and errors.

Sadly, bugs and inefficiencies in applications get passed off as being acceptable and part of the design, development and deployment process.  It's not fair to make your target audience or end users unknowingly be your beta testers.  They shouldn't have to put up with such frustrations if they are being asked to use what really boils down to be a prototype application to do their work.  They should be able to use the application with minimal or no bugs and it should work the way they expect it to. Applications should support work performance, not be a barrier to work performance.

I understand that it may be nearly impossible to release a flawless application.  However, rather than put the end users through this trouble developers and stakeholders should take the time to conduct user-centered design, do quality assurance and build an objective usability test where beta testers can contribute in a meaningful way to find the bugs that are "show stoppers".

Find he bugs, fix them and release.

In the end when a fully functional, working application free of major bugs is released it will work as intended and boost productivity and performance in the workplace.

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