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Posted by Mike Gualtieri on July 19, 2009
My wife and I attended an outdoor wedding yesterday at the Blue Horse Farm in the beautiful Catskills mountains of upstate New York. The beautiful ceremony and reception was set amidst the backdrop of sunny fields, ready-to-pick arugula, a big old barn, grazing horses, and a baby calf named "Johnny".
You never know who you will meet at a wedding and you never know what you may learn from them. Among the distinguished guests attending the wedding I had the pleasure of meeting were Martin Johnson, a freelance Jazz music reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, and France (yes, like the country), a graphic designer for Lord & Taylor. France has to design appealing promotional graphics that result in sell through and Martin has to craft his music reviews to make his readers hear without hearing. To be successful, both Martin and France have to be extraordinarily in-tune with their audience.
Application Developers Also Need To Be Extraordinarily In-Tune With End-Users
My upcoming research on Best Practices In User Experience Design (expected publication August 2009) reveals, among other things, that application developers rely far too heavily on asking end-users or stakeholders what their "requirements" are when designing applications. The best application developers also have a six sense that I call design imagination that helps them fill in the holes left by inarticulate end-users, unknowing business stakeholders, and the evolving business context. Both Martin and France support the design imagination sentiment:
Design Imagination Is Under Attack
Application development shops that adopt Agile methods should be very careful that rapid fire iteration doesn't kill design imagination. If developers relegate themselves to coders who are corrected every two weeks by stakeholders the resulting application may miss the mark of creating a great user experience. The problem: 1) stakeholders are not often not the end-users, 2) developers become more code focused.
Worse, Waterfall methods usually rely only on upfront requirements gathering from dispassionate business analysts that are often far removed from the trenches. The result: Nothing is left to the imagination.
A balanced approach is needed if application development professionals are to create great user experiences. Please read my upcoming research on Best Practices In User Experience Design next month for more in this.
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