If you are a software developer who is ever responsible for the user interface provided to your users, then this is a book you have to read.

Tech products are notoriously hard to use - just witness the problems experienced by a typical new user trying to get something (anything) done.

Alan Cooper has a thesis that the source of this difficulty is that the people doing the programming are the people doing the design.

Software developers are usually highly intelligent, extremely logical and very focussed. They also tend to take delight in learning all the esoteric corners of a system - often for the same reason that mountaineers climb mountains. Because it’s there.

It’s obvious to observe developers are not typical users. Unfortunately, these same developers tend to design GUIs that suit themselves, not the average user.

In his book, The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Alan Cooper discusses the consequences of having the developers design the products, and how to avoid the pitfalls of the approach.


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December 2003