I’m in the middle of an absolutely awesome Technometria podcast with David Platt, author of the book Why Software Sucks. The episode is titled, appropriately enough, Why Software Sucks, the Podcast. It’s very much worth checking out.
David has got some really good examples of what’s wrong with software today. His book blog (Suckbusters) covers some of the same ones he talks about in the podcast. His basic thesis is that people don’t care about the inner workings of an application – they only care about completing the task they’re doing. Like he says, people don’t go to Home Depot and buy a drill because they just want a drill – they want the holes the drill lets them make. That may seem like a really simple and obvious observation, but developers forget it all the time.
One of my recent pet peeves is programmers who assume you’re using their web application all the time. One example is MyCheckFree.com – an online bill pay service that we’re required to use by several companies. It works pretty well except for one thing – its internal messaging system used to inform you of any problems that occur while drawing from your account or paying a bill. It looks like this:
This information is great, but there’s one problem: In order to see it, I need to log into their website. I usually only go to this site once a month when I pay our American Express bill (our others are on auto-pay). That’s probably going to be a little to late to fix any problems that have shown up in my inbox.
The better thing to do would be to just email me if my attention is needed. They’re already doing this when a new bill arrives and needs to be paid, so it wouldn’t be a big leap to do it here too. Sure, keep the message inbox on the site in case I want to see a history of messages, but don’t assume I’m checking in daily. The world doesn’t revolve around you!