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am 16. September 2004
Die meisten Revolutionen verliefen blutig. Auch heute, wo wir am Beginn einer Information Revolution, eines digitalen Zeitalters stehen scheint es Opfer zu geben. - Menschen, die mit den neuen supertollen Produkten einfach nicht zurecht kommen können. An und für sich ist es ja nicht verwunderlich, dass ein paar Softwareprodukte nicht besonders einfach bedienbar sind, seltsam ist nur, dass es heutzutage die große Masse der Programme ist, die einem das leben schwer macht.
"Bill Gates once observed, with uncharacteristic cynicism, that the way you made software user- friendly was by making a rubber stamp and stamping each box with the legend "USER FRIENDLY." Unintentionally, his method has become the computer industry's real method."
Alan Cooper hat erkannt, wie man die Situation verbessern könnte. Nicht, indem man ein weiteres Buch für die paar Interface Designer schreibt, die sich der Tragödie ohnehin bewusst sind, sondern eines, das sich an diejenigen richtet, die das Sagen haben. "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" ist das erste Buch über User Interface- Design, oder wie es Cooper nennt "Interaction Design", für alle, die noch nie damit zu tun hatten.
Die Rechnung geht auf: "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" ist ein hervorragender Einblick in die Welt des Software Designs allgemein und die des User Interface Designs im Besonderen. Es erklärt ausführlich, was an den bisher üblichen Abläufen der Softwareentwicklung falsch ist und wie einfach man diese verbessern könnte. Darüber hinaus führt es gut in die Cooper'sche Methode des "Goal Directed Designs"* ein und zeigt, wie falsch es eigentlich ist, Programme für "Den User" zu entwerfen. Cooper bringt immer wieder exzellente Beispiele unter anderem gibt er einen kleinen Einblick wie chaotisch die Produktentwicklung bei Microsoft abläuft. (Er ist quasi der "Erfinder" von Visual Basic)
Die wichtigsten Feststellungen des Buches:
# Design must be done before programming.
# Let interaction designers do the designing, let programmers do the programming.
# The only thing more expensive than writing software is writing bad software.
# Design for just one person.
# Design for the user's goals, not for specific tasks.
Ich bin sehr froh, dass ich das Buch gelesen habe und möchte jedem, der in irgendeiner Form vor hat, etwas im Bereich der Softwareentwicklung zu erreichen, dasselbe raten: Lest dieses Buch! Es gibt aber eine Sache, die mir negativ daran aufgefallen ist. Abgesehen davon, dass sich Cooper schon ein paar mal wiederholt, was aber nichts ausmacht, ist die Art, wie er über Programmierer schreibt, schon etwas verwunderlich. In einigen Kapiteln hat es fast den Anschein, Programmierer wären keine Menschen. Da helfen beschwichtigende Sätze, die zeigen, wie er es (hoffentlich) eigentlich meint auch nicht wirklich. Manchmal artet das dann sogar in so lächerlichen "Wir gegen die Programmierer" - Phrasen aus. Schade, denn der eigentliche Weg, zu guter Software zu gelangen besteht letztlich immer in einer guten und kooperativen Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Entwicklungsabteilung und der Design - Abteilung.
Wie gesagt, abgesehen davon ist dieses gut geschriebene, allgemein verständliche und amüsante Buch einfach rundum empfehlenswert.
0Kommentar| 7 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 15. Juli 2000
The Inmates are Running the Asylum makes the business case for interaction designers playing a central role in the development of technology products. It starts by providing examples of technology that is difficult, frustrating, humiliating, and even dangerous to use. Cooper argues that, although people have gotten used to being humiliated by technology, it doesn't have to be this way. His claim is that most technology, especially software, is designed by engineers who think differently than non-technical people: they enjoy being challenged by difficult problems and they are trained to think in terms of "edge cases" rather than on the common case. Thus when engineers design software, they tend to create products with far too many neat features that clutter the interface and make it difficult to do the simpler tasks. In the second part of the book, Cooper describes an approach that he and his design firm uses to simplify products and keep them focused on the users' needs, eliminating or hiding more complex features that few people use. He gives some specific and compelling examples of how they took a different approach to an interesting design problem and keep the product simple while still being powerful. He makes the case that you can grab a market with powerful, feature-rich, complex software that is frustrating to use, but you don't build customer loyalty that way; as soon as a well-designed version of that product comes along, your customers will defect. If you delight the user with your products, on the other hand, you will engender deep loyalty that will help see you through some poor business decisions. His primary example of this is the fanatical loyalty that Apple garners from its users, compared with the rage that Windows users feel toward Microsoft. Apple has weathered some horrendous business decisions and still survives, whereas Microsoft users are more than happy to defect when a better product comes along, and in fact revel in the defection.
I also don't think he makes it clear enough that he's not proposing doing *fewer* features to make products simpler and easier to use, he's talking about doing *different* features. For example, he argues that software should not be so lazy; it should stop making the user do work that the computer is better suited to doing (e.g. remembering where they put files), and it should stop making users go through the same steps over and over again, as if it were the first time they had ever met this user. He argues that "Do you really mean it?" popups are evil (and I couldn't agree more - as most of my coworkers know), and instead it should be easy to undo anything, so it's not so catastrophic to do something you didn't meant to do. I agree with all that, but of course building a reasonable "undo" mechanism is a very complex feature. To cure the "How could you possibly want to quit my ever-so-important application?" popup syndrome, it would be much better to make the software very fast to start up, and to have it come back in exactly the state you left it in, so that quitting when you didn't mean to is not a problem. All of this is well worth doing, but it is lots of engineering work; it's another feature. I'm all for shifting engineer resources to these features instead of the "but somebody *might* want to do this obscure thing" features, but it should be clear that this is not doing fewer features, it's doing different ones, ones that help smooth the user's interaction with the software. Cooper seems to imply that engineers are so lazy that they don't want to do these features, but most engineers work very hard and care about their product. The key is to make it clear why doing this feature right will make such a big difference to the product. My experience has been that the more you understand the work involved in doing a feature, the better you can work with engineers. Not only can you better trade off engineering effort for user benefit, but engineers respect you for understanding what you're asking.
Having said all that, I can't deny that I finished this book with some very specific ideas about improving my own designs, and a renewed sense of the importance of what I do. I just wish Cooper could have articulated the case without putting interaction designers "on a throne."
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am 24. Februar 2000
Good read, just be cautious of the one sided slant to this book!
According to this book, the inmates are everywhere and as is the main premise of this book, they are in charge of not only shaping the asylum known as software design, but also our world. Cooper uses various anecdotal examples throughout the book to illustrate his ideas and views on technological design. Focusing entirely on how it has run amuck. Many of the examples are painfully obvious and basic.
While points are well made and key to adding to ones thought process about designing software and better ways to bring product to market. Cooper misses the boat with regards to some of the realities of business. I found Cooper's ideas a little too idealistic with little suggestion in terms of comprimise or strategic change.
Methodology also seems to be off as book is all general impression based on observation and personal experience.
Finally, If you are looking for a reminder about good common sense and a prompt on how to make your customer king, you'll find this a helpful read.
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am 1. Mai 1999
Although the goal, usable software applications, is noble, Alan Cooper is misguided in placing the blame on the engineers.
Feature creep is often caused by business and marketing professionals, as they think piling on more features will make it the product more desirable.
Project plans and specifications are usually poorly planned, which leads directly to engineering problems. Perhaps the business/product management side of the story needs the work.
11 Kommentar| 2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 27. April 1999
Bells and whistles have become an addiction for software developers, and it's high time someone finally turned a spotlight on this aspect of software "development" that has crippled many an otherwise good program.
QuickBooks was once a nice little bookkeeping program for small businesses. We used it for years, loved it, then upgraded to version 5.0. Unfortunately our old version was out the window before we discovered what a colossal mistake we'd made.
First, there's the "User's Guide": almost a thousand pages! A manual of such bulk is a tipoff that a program is too complex for most mortals (assuming the text was reasonably to the point).
Second, the addition of a multitude of new (and useless, for us) functions so cluttered the functionality of QuickBooks that we couldn't fathom how to use the functions that were once a breeze. We never did figure out how to customize the "new and improved" invoice template to accommodate our use.
Third: "Features" would jump up and stand defiantly in our way. When trying to prepare invoices using the barely acceptable template we'd be interrupted with an error message that said we didn't have the item in stock -- we didn't want to use QuickBooks for inventory control, but no, QuickBooks insisted.
After trying to beat some use out of QuickBooks we unloaded it and tossed it out. Now we use the invoice template that comes with MS Excel (INVOICE.XLT)and it works just fine. Intuit actually did us a favor by exercising their compulsion to ruin a simple program; they forced us to discover that a totally functional little invoice template, one infinitely customizable, was on our computer all the time. (Of course, the discovery made us ask ourselves why we weren't heads-up enough to simply design our own invoice using Excel in the first place!) It's easy to get carried away searching for special-use utilities instead of using the tools already right at hand to create our own -- free.
Grammatik is another disaster. Once I considered it indispensable and proofed all my books on it to get the reading level down and identify potential improvements in style. But the folks at Grammatik couldn't leave it alone. New and useless features were added which only bogged down the process of using it. A speller was included(as if we didn't have spell-checking features in WordPerfect and Word!), and if there was a way to disable Grammatik's spell check I never found it. And what a sorry spell checker it was -- wouldn't allow you to add words to its inadequate vocabulary, wouldn't allow you to ignore all occurrences of words it didn't like, so it stopped on every usage of them.
Where I once used Grammatik on entire books of, say, 200,000 words, the new "improved" version would drive me mad trying to get through a 5,000 word chapter. Out it went.
I considered Norton Utilities indespensable for a decade. Now it's not loaded on a single machine here because it pokes its nose into too many places where it has no business, slinging DLLs around in reckless profusion, causing problems and lockups, not to mention its insatiable appetite for computer resources.
If Microsoft can't deliver a Windows version without bugs, how can increasingly "function-rich" programs written by third parties work under Windows without causing conflicts? They can't, and they don't.
Cooper is on the mark: The inmates are running the asylum, and they don't care what us mere users have to endure to accommodate their passions for excess.
It was Mark Twain -- wasn't it? -- who apologized to a friend for writing such a long letter by explaining, "I didn't have time to write a short one." Brevity is hard work.
We've solved many problems here by brutally pruning the utilities on our machines, then formatting hard drives to clear out all the DLLs and other files that have been left behind. A typical gain in available hard-drive space is about a third after a format and complete reload of programs and data files.
Unfortunately, there are too many computer users who "think" they want bigger and better programs even if they never discover how to use more than their most basic features. Also, the computer press fawns over "feature rich" programs -- the journalists review them, but aren't saddled with using them every day. So vendors keep bloating bloating programs and raising the prices.
I've hoped in vain that some enterprising software writers would follow along behind the big boys and create iterations of the simple, functional and easy-to-use utilities they've discarded.
Maybe Cooper will inspire some to do just that.
Doug Briggs
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In The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Cooper has given us a vehicle to articulate our frustration with today's technology. He does so in a humorous, down-to-earth fashion that puts us at ease with our confusion with today's feature-happy electronic devices and software. He offers an empathetic stance, leading the charge against all the new features we have grown to hate or ignore, thrust on us by overzealous engineers (the inmates) ignoring the pleas of designers and consumers alike. This is quite an admirable task considering he is a guru in the field of technology and one of it's prime developers. He gains his authenticity from his experience within the computer industry. If ever there was someone who should be savvy about technology, it should be Alan Cooper, but he is right there as frustrated as we are with products which require manuals bigger than most dictionaries.
In this book, Cooper offers us an insider view of the world of product design and software programming. The world of computers and everyday appliances are merging and, Cooper contends, the merger is not necessarily in the best interest of consumers. He offers some sound advice to designers, engineers and programmers on how to improve the design of products. Although I did not agree with all of his solutions, I still highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to throw a VCR out a window or designed a product somebody else wanted to throw out a window.
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am 17. Dezember 1999
One mouse click to order a book from Amazon, but three mouse clicks to attach a return receipt to an Outlook email! Why has coming to work and firing up the PC ended up for so many people like wearing one of those hospital gowns that refuses to close? It's nice to find a Silicon Valley insider who is willing to acknowledge that there's something gravely wrong here in the patient service department -- and provide a vision of the solution.
This is a book that should be absolutely mandatory for every MIS/IT staffer who has to hold down a help desk, train a new user, design a web page, or otherwise hand out the tools to plain folks who just want to get their work done out on the shop floor (whether that floor is in a hospital, a law firm, a government office, or wherever). Those of us at the other end of the cable, meanwhile, will find it a comfort to know that we aren't witless curmudgeons of the Selectric age whose time has come and gone.
Cooper has it right: if our cars worked like this, we'd all be riding bikes. The book crosses the line from general interest to inside interest somewhere beyond the halfway point, and the illustrations are discomfortingly precious, but this book gives the hapless user a vocabulary for commuting his/her frustrations, while telling the techie something about his/her client that might not have been covered in the computer science curriculum.
Dozens if not hundreds of books have been written and movies made about doctors' inability to relate to their patients. This is the one the computer "doctors" should be reading before they get their licenses to practice, and the "patients" should be reading to keep their sanity. Bravo!
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am 16. Juni 1999
I am a senior IT specialist with over 27 years in the field and was looking forward to reading Mr. Cooper's book until I read the reviews and noted his emphasis on technical personnel as the primary catalysts for poor software.
They may be a factor but not the primary catalyst. Unfortunately, it is and has always been corporate management that have initiated much of the problems we are all facing today. Computers in the hands of the individual or the scientist can offer a tremendous enhancement to their work and lives in an increasingly difficult and complex world. However, in the hands of business management and/or under their aspices the computer has become a plaything for fools who rampantly execute decisions against their technical communities based more on fantasy and personal agenda than that of reality and common sense. And since it is the business realm that produces much of what the consumer uses the results tend to be less than stellar.
Most fail to remember that technicians have very little say in the finality of their projects that are usually run by an organizational stream of management. This is not to say that there aren't plenty of bad technicians who are as equally guilty of incompetence and the infusion of their own personal agendas into a project. There are more than enough. Yet management has consistently failed to understand in depth the technologies they are having implemented which would then allow them to develop quality teams with a balanced forum for input from both sides. Instead, management prefers the "glory" of the technical implementation with the attitude that they they "don't understand this stuff". And how can they when most technicians themselves are having a difficult time keeping up with the high-speed evolutionary pace of their own technology.
If Mr. Cooper had more experience in the everyday development environments that most have to contend with I believe his book would have had a much more balanced emphasis and thus a superior impact on the reading public which is what is really needed. Changing the way software works will not alter the stupidity behind it!
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am 9. Februar 2000
According to Alan Cooper, the toughest obstacle to overcoming difficult to use computer programs, are the programmers (the inmates) who code those programs. Unfortunately, these programmers are also given almost complete power in the software development process because of the skills they possess. The result is a situation where the inmates are allowed to run the software development 'asylum' because no one else can stop them once they've begun writing code.
The end result of allowing programmers to control the process, says Cooper, has been the creation of two types of computer users: Apologists and Survivors. Apologists are those computer users who can (and do) wade their way through awful software interfaces and designs to get things done despite the environment. Apologists, because they are willing to fight their way through programs to exploit advanced features, then make excuses for bad software design because they can see all of the potential these programs offer. On the other hand, Survivors do just that, survive as best they can as they're forced to use software programs that are not intuitive, hard to navigate and overly complex for the tasks they need to perform. Survivors live in a constant state of fear. Fear of the program, fear of the computer and fear of hitting the wrong button and losing all of their hard work. Survivors do not think using computers are easy and, says Cooper, probably comprise about 90% of the computing community.
Interested primarily in interactive design "...the selection of behavior, function, and information and their presentation to users (22)," Cooper makes the case for changing the role of programmers in the interface design process. The change has programmers writing interface code, not creating interface designs. An ex-inmate himself, Cooper believes that programmers can be good interactive designers and good programmers, but rarely can they excel at both on the same product. Unfortunately, however, that's exactly what Cooper sees happening most of the time in the software design process.
Cooper believes that when programmers have less power in the interaction design process more intuitive programs are the result. These kinds of programs don't test users' patience and drive them crazy with unwanted (or unnecessary) functions and procedures. Cooper proposes that these kinds of friendly interfaces can (and are) quite easy to develop once the programmers are kept in check.
This is an interesting and eye-opening read for anyone interested in computing, or for those frustrated with the entire computing process. A must-read for anyone who wants a fresh perspective on interface design.
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am 3. Juli 2000
The culture of software development is changing, but grudgingly. The short-sighted notion "It's better to be first with something bad than second with something perfect" has been discredited after too long a reign as the New Paradigm of the Information Age ("It's brilliant because it's counter-intuitive!"), and instead has been exposed for what it is: bad business and a lousy way to treat customers. Alan Cooper's book helps make sense of things as software developers, after decades of coding for each other, are forced to begin acknowledging the cold and strange outside world of Real Life Users.
Cooper's writing is generally clear and easy to follow. He documents his points well and uses numerous true-to-life examples to illustrate the concepts. The ATM analysis, for example, is both effective and memorabl: Why DOES the ATM list account types you don't have, permitting an invalid selection? Why can't you return to a previous screen to correct mistakes, instead of starting over from scratch? Why doesn't the system give you an error message that helps you understand the problem, rather than "Unable to complete transaction"? No one even bothers to ask these questions, Cooper points out, because we've accepted the default structure of ATM screens--which were created for the convenience of coders and system engineers, rather than users.
Cooper also performs a valuable service in demolishing that old standby programmers' excuse: "We don't call any of the shots-it's all management's fault!" Bull. Half the managers in the computer industry are former coders themselves (and laboring under an outmoded and faulty mental model of how software development must occur, by the way). The other half are so non-technical that they're at the mercy of the coders, who are free to decide which features are most important, which will take too long, and ultimately, which will or won't make the cut for the next release. Coders ARE driving this bus, if occasionally from the back seat, and they need to take responsibility for what they produce-and be humble enough to admit that an indispensable part of the development process (interface/interaction design) is beyond their abilities.
That said, Cooper's writing style itself is less than perfect. He presents many compelling case histories, but at times he seems to lean too heavily on insider stories, as if showing off his contacts and expertise in the industry. And, of course, Cooper is far too much in love with his "dancing bear" metaphor; long before you've reached the halfway point, you'll be muttering, "One page...just ONE page without a 'dancing bearware' reference, PLEASE! That's all I ask!"
But the messages and lessons in this book are too important to ignore. As Cooper tries to remind us, it is everyday users-not the power users, not even the "computer literate"-who are the core audience. They're the ones you have to design for: a successful interaction design, rather than a burgeoning list of clever features, is what will determine your product's success or failure.
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