Usability and Software Fitness

Russell Turpin
Mon, 20 Aug 2001 21:58:18 +0000

Tom Whore writes:
>Its not that one is slave to the other or less than the other, its that you 
>must must must have a blend of functions such that the USER is served best, 
>whoevere or whatever the USER of that thing is.

I disagree, on both points. (1) Business concerns
dominate. Good business and mediocre -- or even poor
engineering -- almost always wins, where bad business
dooms a product to failure, even if it is excellently
engineered. Yes, there are cases where engineering
quality is more critical, and a business endeavor has
failed because it was not up to par. But these cases
are relatively rare. There are many more cases where
a business succeeded, despite a badly engineered
product, even one so badly engineered that it hurt the
customers. By the time it mattered, the business had
stepped into other arenas. This is the nature of our
economic system. Engineers might not like it. But they
would be well-advised to face the reality.

(2) The user rarely gets "served best." Our economic
system does NOT guarantee optimal products for the
customer. Making an optimal product does not guarantee
business success. A lesser product *sometimes* is a
business weakness that competitors can exploit. Our
economic system DOES guarantee the evolution of business
processes (including technology). That's what capitalism
is all about. And this does mean that most products will
get better over time. But business processes improving
over time (and dragging technology and products with
them) does NOT mean that customers get served best, nor
that providing the best product is how to succeed in


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