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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sometimes the IT end user really doesn't know what they want. Take this recent case for example where here in my office, a user wanted to be able to implement a form where they could type in the employee's first name, and last name, and the first name would be stored in a table entry for FirstName and the last name would be stored in the coinciding field called LastName. Nice in theory. Bad in practice.

Why? Well, I asked the user if they would be the primary data entry person. No, she says. Each employee will enter their own name. Red flag went up immediately. See, in practice, not every user will enter their name in as First and Last. Some users have become accustomed to entering Last, First. Or, we have several employees who have more than two names. Willy Mo Jones. Things like that. How does the form logic handle that, I asked? "Mmmm, I don't know. That's why you are the developer.", she said with a grin.

Here, I decide to lecture about poor UI design, and then I ask, "What's wrong with requiring the user to enter their name, and requiring them to tab into the new field?" No response. This company has so many users who think about requirements in terms of a simple scenario, without relying on common sense to dictate how systems should be designed, not that other companies are any different, but still. Needless to say, the UI was implemented with two form fields instead of one, and not one user has complained.


.: posted by Dave 1:02 PM

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