Musings from Mike Atkinson on Internet strategy, usability, and more...

Bridge deaths

If you’ve been involved in any web-based project, you know that you usually find problems after you’ve launched it. And there’s a good chance they’re big problems. And expensive to change at that point. Oh, how I’ve been there. Finding these problems before going live is very important…

“This is critical because discovering a usability problem down the road is very expensive. If bridges were built the way we build web sites, we’d first build the entire bridge then set cars off to cross it. As the first one plummets into the depths, as it inevitably will, we would say, ‘Gee, maybe we should be changing the design of this bridge.’ (Of course, there are those who would then say, ‘I dunno. I’m not sure one plummeting car is statistically significant. Maybe we should wait until others dive to their deaths…’)”

That’s Jared Spool in the introduction to one of his past newsletters from User Interface Engineering.

Yes, I have been part of many bridge deaths. Ack. Then a good friend (yay June!) introduced me to Jakob Nielsen in around 1997. I was exposed to the concept of user research. We slowly instituted user testing at YS over the next few years.

What a difference it makes! Yes, there is some investment – mostly in time. But I’ll never forget the feeling of launching a site or app and knowing that it was mostly all good. (Of course, nothing is ALL good.)

A great feeling…


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