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RE: [agile-usability] Re: FUBU

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  • Desilets, Alain
    There are developers who understand users , not just because of FUBU, but because they have that empathy wiring. Move them to another field, and they ll
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 16, 2006
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      There are developers who understand "users", not just because of FUBU,
      but because they have that empathy wiring. Move them to another field,
      and they'll figure out how to ask the right questions to understand
      those users. The majority I've worked with, unfortunately, aren't that
      way.

      -- Alain:
      I think the reason why many developpers behave AS THOUGH they are
      incapable of empathising with the user, is that they are NEVER EXPOSED
      to them, and are given no information about them. How can you empathise
      with someone you have never met and of whom you know nothing?

      If I ask you to "empathise with Joe", will you be able to do it? Of
      course not! How about if I tell you that he just lost his wife in a car
      accident? It probably helps right? How about if I tell you that he has
      five kids under 10 to care for single handedly? I'm sure you feel the
      pain by now. How about if you meet Joe Bloe in person and hear his story
      directly from him? At that point, you will probably feel an urge to help
      him if you can.

      Most of the programmers I meet that work in an agile environment where
      they are directly exposed to the end user and the customer are pretty
      good at empathising with them and understanding user needs. So I think
      the reason why so many programmers behave differently is due to the
      environment they work in, not to an inherent inability to empathise.
      ----
    • Dave Churchville
      ... Well, I agree that the environment is a necessary condition, but I don t think it s sufficient. Again, this may be limited to my own experience, but having
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 16, 2006
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        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain"
        <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
        > Most of the programmers I meet that work in an agile environment where
        > they are directly exposed to the end user and the customer are pretty
        > good at empathising with them and understanding user needs. So I think
        > the reason why so many programmers behave differently is due to the
        > environment they work in, not to an inherent inability to empathise.


        Well, I agree that the environment is a necessary condition, but I
        don't think it's sufficient. Again, this may be limited to my own
        experience, but having worked with many different types of developers
        in varied environments over 15 years or so, my perspective is that
        there's more to it than just default empathy. (Note: I am a developer
        myself, and notwithstanding some bright moments, I have suffered from
        this problem as well).

        In fact, what has happened is that many people *believe* they are
        empathizing, and they certainly do want to help the user - it's that
        for some reason they are unable to truly see the goals of the user.

        In other words, to take your example of Joe who has 10 kids, I might
        empathize with that, and say, I really want to help Joe, let's build
        an automatic diaper changer.

        In reality, Joe's main goal is to have some alone time once in a
        while, so he'd really like a babysitter.

        So empathy and understanding may not be equivalent here. I don't know
        how else to explain this, it's just my experience. Sounds like you've
        had more luck.

        --Dave

        Dave Churchville
        http://www.extremeplanner.com
      • Desilets, Alain
        In fact, what has happened is that many people *believe* they are empathizing, and they certainly do want to help the user - it s that for some reason they are
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 16, 2006
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          In fact, what has happened is that many people *believe* they are
          empathizing, and they certainly do want to help the user - it's that for
          some reason they are unable to truly see the goals of the user.

          In other words, to take your example of Joe who has 10 kids, I might
          empathize with that, and say, I really want to help Joe, let's build an
          automatic diaper changer.

          -- Alain:
          In an XP Environment, Joe would tell the developper that what he really
          needs someone to babysit his kids while he takes some time off. So the
          developper would never end up building an automatic diaper changer. He
          might think that building an automatic diaper changer would be more fun
          than babysitting, but by agreeing to work on an XP team he has accepted
          the customer's bill of rights that says the customer gets to decide
          exactly what gets built.

          Maybe what you mean by "ability to empathise" you really mean "ability
          to see the forest for the tree and interpret what the customer/user says
          and come up with innovative designs that address their core needs". If
          so, I would agree that this is a skill that UI types of people are more
          likely to possess. But even there, that stereotype is not as strong as
          you might think. I know LOTS of UI types who CAN'T see the forest for
          the trees and who get bogged down in details like wording of dialogs,
          colors, positioning etc... (and those guys aren't all "developper turned
          UI-guy by accident" types). And I also know LOTS of developpers
          (especially in the agile world) who are very good at seeing the forest
          and coming up with the
          SimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyAddressTheUser'sCoreNeeds.
          ----
        • Dave Churchville
          ... Yes, that s exactly what I mean :-) But I wasn t making a statement that UI people are better at this than developers as a rule. Or that developers are
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 16, 2006
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            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain"
            <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
            > Maybe what you mean by "ability to empathise" you really mean "ability
            > to see the forest for the tree and interpret what the customer/user says
            > and come up with innovative designs that address their core needs". If
            > so, I would agree that this is a skill that UI types of people are more
            > likely to possess.

            Yes, that's exactly what I mean :-)

            But I wasn't making a statement that "UI people" are better at this
            than developers as a rule. Or that developers are universally bad at it.

            Rather, I think this is a relatively rare skill, in any discipline.

            Granted, an agile team is less likely to *overbuild* something
            suboptimal, and with frequent iteration and feedback may come up with
            a good solution over time. Again, I'm mainly talking about user
            interfaces and interactions.

            For example, as a long time agile practitioner, I think I've gotten
            pretty good at "forest vision", and been able to come up with simple,
            effective designs to solve core user needs.

            But I'm still amazed when I run across someone who has a gift for this
            kind of thinking, and can come up with a variety of alternatives, each
            of which is easily as good as mine at solving the problem.

            Again, I just think that's rare. Doesn't mean my solutions aren't
            "good enough", but there's another level possible.

            --Dave

            Dave Churchville
            http://www.extremeplanner.com
          • Desilets, Alain
            But I wasn t making a statement that UI people are better at this than developers as a rule. Or that developers are universally bad at it. -- Alain: No
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 16, 2006
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              But I wasn't making a statement that "UI people" are better at this than
              developers as a rule. Or that developers are universally bad at it.

              -- Alain:
              No worries. My buttons are pretty easy to push when it comes to
              stereotypes about developpers.
              ----
            • Jon Kern
              ... able to ... I am not so sure... (except for the might part) I would surmise the reason FUBU is easy for technical products is because of the intense
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 17, 2006
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                > I think if you have written good FUBU software, you might be
                able to
                >write decent FOBU (For Others, By Us) software also, because you are

                I am not so sure... (except for the "might" part)

                I would surmise the reason FUBU is easy for technical products is because of the intense familiarity with
                    - the domain
                    - the user tasks
                    - the end user needs

                Having worked with the brilliant TogetherSoft development team, the tool was FUBU in the early days and very well done.

                As the feature list expanded to strange things like EJBs, the usability began to wane. The developers read the J2EE specs and technically did things correctly. But, since they had no idea what a J2EE developer needed -- though they expected they knew what was needed, this part of the tool fell short.
                -- jon
                
                


                Desilets, Alain said the following on 2/15/2006 3:54 PM:
                So, what's my point?  I have none - at least no big point.  Just
                these observations: developers often design good software for
                developers: FUBU.  Other often design pretty good software for their
                own use: FUBU.  Doing so can lead one to the false sense of belief
                that design is easy - and you can do it for anyone, or anyone else
                can do it for themselves: self-centered design.

                comments invited, and thanks for listening/reading. 
                [I really should get a blog and stop using this list as one.  ;-) ]

                -- Alain:
                I think if you have written good FUBU software, you might be able to
                write decent FOBU (For Others, By Us) software also, because you are
                already in the right frame of mind. In other words, you paid a lot of
                attention to yourself as an end user, so you will probably pay
                atttention to those Others as end users. In my view, once your whole
                team has assimilated the "pay attention to the end user" mentra, you are
                80% of the way there.

                Of course, a pitfall is that the developpers might not realise that
                these Other users are not like them... That's the "you are not the user
                (although you may be like them in many respects)" mentra. But I would
                think that this second mentra comes easily once you have assimilated the
                first one.
                ----
              • Jon Kern
                ...and I thought I did a good job... http://blogs.compuware.com/cs/blogs/jkern/archive/2006/02/23/mastering_a_skill.aspx -- jon
                Message 7 of 13 , Feb 24, 2006
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