JoelonSoftware: Usability is an Edge Concern

Not Just Usability is the latest in Joel Spolsky’s attack on usability. The only thing about Joel’s attacks, they are spot on. He’s right. Usability is important at the margins of use! Don Norman presented this argument about the transition point where technology satisfies basic needs in The Invisible Computer (.com). It really ties in nicely with the idea that companies selling to developers (and other early adopters) will be inclined to focus on features and performance rather than convenience, reliability and low cost. This is important because if you can survive the early years as your product and market mature, you are half way. Companies that do not adopt user-centered (customer-centered) methods and practices as part of their culture may have a significantly more difficult time crossing the chasm of marketing and selling to later, larger market segments.

I love that Joel continues to lob challenging, well informed, contrarian viewpoints at the HCI, usability, IA, interaction design communitiies.