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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Re: Advice for product owners

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  • Keith Lancaster
    ... This is a question that has haunted every project I have ever worked on, whether the methodology was ad-hoc or RUP or somewhere in between (aka something
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 25, 2005
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      --- averb <volpe@...> wrote:
      >
      > I'm a new product owner and one question I'm trying
      > to figure out is
      > when should the UI design happen and who should do
      > it ?
      >

      This is a question that has haunted every project I
      have ever worked on, whether the methodology was
      ad-hoc or RUP or somewhere in between (aka something
      like any of the agile processes). I can say with
      certainty that not all developers are cut out for UI
      design - in fact, in my experience, very very few have
      the slightest clue how to design a truly usable
      interface. Unfortunately, most product owner types
      fall in to the same category. UI design is a very
      specialized area, requireing an understanding of
      usability principles, a technical understanding of
      what is possible, and a firm understanding of UI
      norms.

      A couple of examples from my past:
      a) Developer w/no UI experience doing design: An
      operation is supposed to be available for items that
      are in a certain state. The first step in performing
      the operation is to enter some criteria into a search
      screen, which then brings back the full record of the
      item if it exists. The developer wrote a query that
      said "bring me the item that matches the given
      criteria AND is in a particular state". If the query
      returned nothing, then the item either did not exist
      or was in the wrong state for the operation. The
      message to the user? "No records found". When I said
      "The error should be something like 'The requested
      operation cannot be performed because...' because the
      record might exist but not be in the correct state,
      the developer said "No. The error message is correct.
      The query found no records". Perfectly accurate, and
      totally misleading to a user. 99% of end users would
      assume that they had mistyped the criteria and start
      over.
      b) I've seen product owners make fundamental mistakes,
      like using radio buttons for multiple item selection,
      using drop down menus for lists that might number in
      the hundreds, etc.

      If you couple the product owner with a developer who
      also lacks good UI skills, you end up with a usability
      nightmare.

      My suggestion: have on staff a real UI designer, one
      who understands these issues. Have them work with the
      product owner and stakeholders to come up with the UI,
      and then run the result through at least some sort of
      simple usability test with real end users (NOT
      managers, unless they are the actual users of the
      system). As to when...as early as possible.

      My 2 cents,
      Keith

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