Background on the author: who is he, and why does he do what he does?
A word from a sponsor:
Who are you?
André E. Veltstra, husband, father, teacher, generally creative and artistic, software architect, web site and web app developer.
Where do you work?
Here at the ΩJr.Net. I write the articles, do the research, design and program the working of the website.
Why did you start publishing these Failure Notes?
I use a lot of software. Before the world-wide web grew big, I used a lot of what we now call stand-alone, off-line programs, and some client-server applications, too. Some of them worked well, and others had major flaws. Not just technical bugs, but also problematic usability. Ease of use is very important to me. I am a smart man, but if you make me think about which way to slide a switch to turn something on or off, you made a mistake.
Those errors, by the way, combined with my academic studies and my creative drive, are what got me started programming software, too.
Then the W.W.W. arrived, and everyone and their grandmother wanted to take part. People participated who never gained the experience from creating stand-alone programs, and from the looks of it had never extensively used any, either. So they repeated mistakes that were easily avoidable, if they had known, if they had taken the time to look, if the knowledge had been out there for them to see.
That's one reason for this series of educational articles: to show other people's mistakes, so you can skip them and instantly improve your product.
There's however another, less altruistic reason. See, I don't simply put this stuff on the web and shame the production companies. No: before I publish these notes, I contact the company in question, and share my analysis of their product. I give them a chance to better their product, and I offer my help.
And when they react hostily, or generally indifferent, that's when these notes go public. From the amount of articles here, and what I yet have to publish, one can fairly assume that few of the companies I contact care to comment kindly, if at all. You don't care about your customer's experience? Well, shame on you. Let's see how well you fare, when your customers decide to spend their money elsewhere.
Software should help. It should be easy to understand and easy to use, especially when the topic matter is difficult. You should know whether your product or service helps, or irritates. If it gets in my way, or refuses to work on equipment of my preference, I get irritated, and you just lost another customer.
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