basic usability for coders
A developer’s primary job is to develop an application s per the SRS. What is the need for him to learn usability basics? Usability, UX, Interface Design etc are designer jobs, isn’t? This might be the first thought coming to the mind if you are a hardcore developer especially one focused on backend and servers. Well, in the fast changing technology world. This is no longer true. And in few scenarios at least this knowledge makes all the difference.
Few days back i got a chance to talk to a web developer with around 4 years of experience, in an interview. He had many e-commerce applications and reservation systems adding value to his profile. The technical discussion was good and i bet for him. He is a good coder.
For my query about the targeted users for the apps, that he develop, the answer was quick and confident. The one who pays money to develop it, the client.
I asked him about how he normally  ensure usability of his application. He stared at me for 3-4 of seconds and shot back. What do you exactly mean by usability? After 5 minutes and a basic summary from my side on what i meant with a simple example  he seems relaxed and replied. Well,we use ajax to avoid page loads for usability. Might be my mistake with the summary that he still didn’t got the context of my question.
But this happens if you talk to a lot of developers, at least from the subcontinent. They are good in coding, problem solving and slogging. Capable of solving most of the challenges technically and cost effectively but many a times never bothers about the business side of the application. They hardly cares about who uses the application, what they intend to do with it, what is the end users socio economic background and how much desire and need they have in using the app.
They solve the problem, gets the requirement done, and most probably will create a  secure scalable system in the process.
But the hard truth is, if the system is not giving due  consideration to the end user, his purpose and his persona, there is a high chance that it will end up as a failure.

USABILITY is the golden key that opens the magic door of user acceptance for your system.

If the system is voted as usable by majority of its users, it passes the first and major hurdle and rest of the problems can be addressed with time and resource.
Developers are normally used with the complex user interfaces of control panels and IDE’s that they use everyday. They never get chance to learn usability basics in 60% scenarios. So when he designs an interface  the natural tendency is to create another cockpit flooded with hooks buttons and gears. They love it. I love it. It gives many options which is what we want always while we build something.
But this is not OK for a non technical person. He needs something less confusing. A system that guides him well and throws less surprises in his path to get the job done with no mistakes.
So if you are a techie with a profile fitting to the one mentioned above, next time when you plan to learn something new, put usability in the top of the list. learn usability basics.
It is all about understanding the end user (his persona), his need, and his way of getting the job done and develop your system based on it. It is as important as your expertise in java or python. This is a skill that you will not loose over time even if you don’t practise.

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