Design Is the Art of Making Choices

User Interface Design for Programmers includes some great examples of terrible interface choices made by programmers. I like the point that any app’s Options panel is an anthropological record of arguments that took place inside the company.

Should we automatically open the last file that the user was working on? Yes! No! There is a two week debate, nobody wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, the programmer puts in an #ifdef in self defense while the designers fight it out. Eventually they just decide to make it an option.

And everyone can relate to his skewering of the wizard that appears when you first launch a Windows help file. Thanks Lars.

Music: Brian Eno :: Cindy Tells Me

2 Replies to “Design Is the Art of Making Choices”

  1. Joel is a great guy, really enlightned. :)
    Another classic from Joel: “software takes 10 years to mature, live with it”.

    >skewering of the wizard that appears when
    > you first launch a Windows help file.

    It is not the case anymore with XP. ;-)
    The example is pretty old now, for Win9x.

  2. Well, almost all software examples get invalidated by newer developments – but that is actually irrelevant since the purpose of the example is to illustrate the point the author is making. Any enlightened reader is certainly able to come up with up-to-date examples on their own :-)

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