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Part VI: Software Usability > Editing Interfaces

Chapter 40. Editing Interfaces

My company just finished editing a user interface. Officially, the contract was for an “expert usability evaluation,” but what we were doing was editing. Good user interfaces start with good architecture, but achieving real software usability requires recognizing where a user interface has gotten it wrong, then making it right. Often, successive rounds of critical appraisal, revision, and refinement are needed to remove the defects. This is editing, and editing is one of the core skills for software and applications developers. It's pretty much the same story whether you are editing a program, a book, or a user interface.

I have long been envious of writers whose fingers fly over the keyboard, producing first drafts that are already final copy. For myself, writing is a slow, sometimes frustrating, and often fitful process, the first fruits of which tend toward the indigestible. Fortunately, I am a pretty good editor. Over the years I have learned how to step back from my writing, peruse it with jaundiced eyes, and identify the problems in need of rework. An article may go through four or five rounds of heavy-handed rewrites before I am satisfied that the results are ready for prime time.


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