The end user doesn't read the source code!

For way too many years we have used that phrase to explain to developers that it is important for them to try to understand their users.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

When it didn’t work, we tried to explain about users using most of the standard, and many of the non-standard techniques:

  • We’ve posted personas up on walls near coffee and copy machines hoping that everyone will read them, and eventually have a better understanding of the real users.
  • We’ve presented brown-bag after brown-bag talking about User eXperience, UX methods, and the ROI of UX and how working with the UX team can actually save a lot of money.
  • We've created presentations—based upon cognitive psychological principles—to show that there is a science to understanding and designing to match the mental models of users.
  • We've also purchased and distributed multiple copies of The Inmates Are Running the Asylum and Don't Make Me Think

When it did work, we had happy developers, eager to get feedback from us and from real users before, during, and after the design and development of their product. These applications had happy users, that didn’t need to read a manual in order to work with the product or website, and happy CFOs that didn’t have to spend so much on training or on the support of their product.

In a 2013 blog post by Robert Fabricant, he calls User Experience “The new Black” borrowing the term from the fashion industry. ( see ). Fabricant talks about “The recognition of UX’s importance seems to be slowly sinking into corporate culture.”

No one can be happier about this than us, and the majority of the “veteran” UX professionals out there – like the talented group of “Human Factors Scientists” that we worked with while at IBM back in the early 90s. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s been an interesting ride.

The user still doesn’t read the source code. The user interface IS the application.

The technologies have changed, but the basic understanding of end users, how they think, what common problems they have and knowing why they decide to behave in particular ways are much more powerful than an advanced algorithm that perhaps they will never ever see (the source code).

There is typically a 10 to 100 times return on investment (ROI) on resources spent on Usability and User-Centered Design. We are here to help your organization become as successful as possible. Take advantage of this ROI by contacting The Usability People today.