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the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

It’s the computer’s fault (no, really)

in Design & Usability , Monday, May 23, 2005

I started reading John Cato's User Centered Web Design this morning on the train. Something in the first pages triggered a thought. It used to be very common, and probably still is, to hear people claiming that some administrative or other disaster was "the computer's fault". I always treated such whingeing with quite some scorn: "the computer does just what you tell it to". I guess I've changed my mind now! John Cato puts it very well: "usability is being able to do the things you want to do and not the things you have to do". The computer does indeed do what it is told to do, but it is being told by a combination of developers, managers, managers' managers, beancounters and many others before the end user gets a say in things. Many of the victims of my superior scorn would probably have been far less inclined to blame the computer if the software they were using had been designed with their needs in mind rather than some budget holder's. Of course there are exceptions. These usually concern vastly overpaid and breathtakingly incompetent managers of massively overbudget IT disasters blaming "the computer". I was right about them! ps: whilst John Cato's book seems good, one thing annoys me. His book's website is useful, but all pages titles are: "Untitled Document". Ok, so it's a minor point, but still... practice what you preach ? [Posted from the scene with hblogger 2.0]