Why do we make things so difficult?

I’ve recently been trying to help out with an issue which has required me to roll up my sleeves a bit, and unfortunately it has brought pack all too familiar memories. Our computer systems (and often the documentation that goes along with it) simply makes things way too difficult. In my opinion, the thing that I’m trying to do should be a relatively straightforward function, but as I’ve dug into it, I just seem to run into an endless set of configuration parameters that need to be specified. Now, while I’m pretty far removed from my days as a developer, I still consider myself tech savvy and a very quick learner. I can’t help but think what the average joe must go through to try to make these things work. It’s almost as if these systems were written to ensure a marketplace for systems integrators and other consultants.

This all comes back to usability and human-computer interaction, areas that have always been a passion of mine. If your products aren’t usable, it’s simply going to create frustration and distrust. If your documentation or support channels are equally poor, the situation will continue to go down. What’s even worse is when there isn’t a workaround, and the only option left to a user is to find an expert who can help. As a user, I don’t like to be painted into a corner where I have no options. We need to keep these things in mind when we build our own systems for our business partners. If we design systems that aren’t usable and require that the business come find someone in IT every time they try to do certain options, that’s a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have a usability team in your organization, I strongly urge you to find some experts and start building one.

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