19 July 2011

Make Software for People

Whenever software professionals extol the virtues of Lean Manufacturing, I think of the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy & Ethel work the assembly line of a candy factory, then I wonder
What does quantity-based slapstick have to do with people interacting with visual representations of information?

Alan Cooper roasts the auto industry for slipshod telematics in this Cooper Journal post: Will Ford learn that software isn't manufactured?

Auto manufacturers are far from mastering telematics. Toyota might have given birth to Lean, but 10 minutes struggling to make heads or tails of the slapdash telematics and interface controls on my Prius proves Toyota isn't paying attention to my needs, let alone offering a familiar visual metaphor.

Someone at Toyota must have deemed an intuitive dashboard display & interface controls to be one of the original seven wastes.

You don't have to be Alan Cooper or Don Norman to empathize with the people using your software. What's the value and where's the joy in using your products?

Design Serves Human Purpose – from paper clips to pyramids. Make software with people in mind.

15 July 2011

An Old Story of Story Mapping

Agile software development teams who use Story Mapping in the tradition originated in software circles by Jeff Patton and David Hussman will be amused to learn author Eudora Welty was doing her own kind of story mapping back in 1953.

In her correspondence with novelist and New Yorker fiction editor William Maxwell, she wrote:
“I used to use ordinary paste and put the story together in one long strip, that could be seen as a whole and at a glance — helpful and realistic. When the stories got too long for the room I took them up on the bed or table & pinned and that’s when my worst stories were like patchwork quilts, you could almost read them in any direction . . . I like pins."
~Eudora Welty (What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell)
Note Ms. Welty's visual cues for what her worst stories looked like when pinned into a "patchwork quilt".

From Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors, I learned of the pre-Agile card-writing used by Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov wrote most of his novels on 3 x 5 inch index cards, which he paper-clipped and stored in boxes.

Visit Jeff Patton's slide deck Building Better Products Using User Story Mapping from Agile India 2010.