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Examining Software Usability

Apr 03, 2004, 04:00 (21 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Gruber, Eugenia Loli-Queru)

Daring Fireball: Ronco Spray-On Usability

"Eric S. Raymond--the renowned Linux/Open Source evangelist/essayist--couldn’t figure out how to connect to a shared printer. So he wrote an essay describing the problem (the UI for printer configuration on his Linux system is horrible) and proposing a solution (open source developers should do a better job with UI design)...

"Raymond’s description and criticism of the usability problems he encountered trying to achieve this are accurate and apt. The gist of it is that what seemed like the obvious way to go about the task was in fact completely wrong, and worse, there was no indication from the system that he wasn’t on the right track..."

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OSNews: What it Really Takes to Get Good Usability on a Product

"This interesting article reminded me why Be, Inc. employeed up to 5 usability/interface engineers at one point for BeIA and BeOS (an operating system known very well for its cohesiveness, speed and ease of use for those who have used it). Be, Inc. was in its heyday much smaller than Red Hat or SuSE.

"To my knowledge, Red Hat and Ximian employ one usability engineer each (whose sole job is to bring a better experience to their products). MandrakeSoft has two people part-time (last time I checked). I have never heard of SuSE having anyone (except the respectful efforts of developer Waldo Bastian who has proved 'sensitive' to usability issues)..."

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