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Part VI: Software Usability > Going to the Source

Chapter 36. Going to the Source

What do users want, anyway? And how do you find out? Software developers are being told to produce the systems their clients and customers want, to become more user-oriented. Companies in every field are trying to be more competitive by listening to “the voice of the customer” and becoming “customer-driven.” It is not enough anymore to have software with the right features. The software needs to have a good user interface: to be easy to learn and easy to use. But how do you know what users want in a user interface, anyway? Many companies turn to market research, to telephone and written surveys that ask users or potential users what they want.

Sometimes it appears they don't even know themselves, and often it seems that what they want may not be at all what they need. A major developer of accounting software accumulated over 15,000 requests and suggestions for changes from its customers between one integer release and the next. Many of these were patently ridiculous, and careful study showed that others would have been mistakes to incorporate into the software.


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