Fred Sampson's Radio Weblog
a card-carrying member of the reality-based community


Contact Fred:


I listen to IT Conversations


Subscribe to "Fred Sampson's Radio Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Electronic Freedom Foundation



  Wednesday, October 20, 2004

From ACM's TechNews (subscription may be required) comes this abstract for an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):

Chair of Washington & Jefferson College's information-technology leadership program Charles Hannon writes that over the past decade he has worked with numerous academic information systems that were all consistent in their failure to deliver the advantages they promised because neither designers nor developers consulted users to determine what they desired from those systems before designing them. Typical results of such designer ignorance are inefficient user interfaces, marginally useful features, and a scarcity of applications that users assumed would be included. Hannon cites as a recent example an online registration-and-advising system Washington & Jefferson adopted last spring, which boasts a clumsy interface and cannot facilitate the delivery of emails to all the users' advisees, or schedule appointments to meet with new students. Hannon contends that designers often disregard users' wants because the customer who asks for the system in the first place is usually looking for an affordable, easily deployable solution that interoperates with other campus systems, rather than fulfills users' needs. "Ease of use" is not highly prioritized by the customer on the list of system requirements, while user satisfaction is hardly ever a major criterion used by CIOs to assess the performance of integration teams. Hannon refers to Alan Cooper's book, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, which posits that users either assume creating better software is impossible, or are willing to accept bad design as long as the software relieves them from the burden of dealing with paper-based systems. Hannon suggests that highest-level academic administrators should refuse to do business with software companies that do not interview potential users at the beginning of the design process, while users should only participate in feedback sessions held by systems integrators if they were interviewed during the design stage.

Note the operative phrase: "should refuse to do business with. . ."

7:51:10 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2002-2005 Fred Sampson.
Last update: 5/21/05; 10:24:14 PM.

October 2004
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Sep   Nov

Search this site:

Fred's Blogroll

ACLU Safe and Free

What I'm Reading:

The WeatherPixie