Monday, January 02, 2012

The Peter Principle of Software Development

A quiz for software developers.

1. If a feature has proven to be especially useful to users in the past, you should
a) Get rid of it.
b) Rename it so that users will not know where to find it (Preview developers, I'm looking at you. Why transform "Save as" into Export? Why?)
c) Surround it with three new pointless "features" that no one would ever want to use.

2. A feature is simple to get to in an earlier version, requiring only two clicks of a mouse. The next version of the software should require how many clicks to access the same feature?
a) Three
b) Five
c) Five plus a Google search for where to find the feature

3. If a feature is accessible through a fast keystroke combination, what should you do in the next version?
a) Make it accessible only by drop-down menu accessed from a mouse, so that it takes longer
b) Make it accessible only with a mouse AND rename it
c) Make it accessible only via the mouse AND tell the user to go remap the keyboard or write a macro if she's so keen to use keystrokes. Keystrokes are for peasants.

4. Should you, under any circumstances, explain how to do things in the users' manual?
a) Hahahahahahah--what a comedian you are!
b) What users' manual? You mean the giant .pdf with lawyers' warnings that tell me not to use the laptop as a tray to carry hot coffee and not to put the mouse in my mouth--in six languages?
c) No. Users' manuals build community by forcing people to Google the problem and find out the answer on various tech forums.

5. If a user minimizes or shuts down some feature by mistake, causing it to vanish, how long should it remain invisible to the user?
a) Forever. If you didn't write down what the feature was called--hey, your loss. Learn to work without it. It builds character.
b) It depends on the feature. If it's one that the user might want to use, forever, but if it's some pointless frill like sharing your private information with Facebook, it should pop up again and again.

6. For website developers: when designing a site where users have to enter important information that counts for something, should you have pointless pop-ups asking the user to donate money/consider visiting another site/choose between two equally incomprehensible options before continuing?
a) yes

Anything else you'd like to add to the quiz?


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

It's funny because it's true.

Ink said...

This is hilarious!

I think that one new additional step might involve subtracting pi and drawing a chicken, but I'm not sure.

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Dr. Koshary said...

"Keystrokes are for peasants" is probably the funniest thing I'll read all week.

Adjunctorium said...


You wouldn't happen to be talking about Blackboard in passing, wouldja?

Love item 3, especially. One of the grandest annoyances about the Mac is that Word for Mac has virtually no keyboard commands. This was true long before the infuriating "ribbon" came along to supersede and inactivate Word commands in the Microsoft versions. On the Mac, you can of course write macros to clone your favorite commands. Yes, at your peril: the most common Word keyboard commands are Macintosh system commands. :roll:

undine said...

Adjunctorium--Blackboard: don't get me started!

Web Development Company Northeast Ohio said...

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