“User interface is customer service for the computer”
AP published an interview with Julie Larson-Green, head of Windows Experience and in charge of Windows 7, the next version of Windows for PCs.
“The primary things that help you create a good user experience are empathy, and being able to put yourself in the place of people who are using the products,” she said. “User interface is customer service for the computer.” […]
Many of the [design] principles come back to Larson-Green mantras of “user in control.” The team tried to build an operating system people could use without studying first, one that would let them get right to reading the news or sending e-mail without dragging them down a rabbit hole of settings and configurations.
It appears that the Windows 7 Team has a true user advocate in Julie Larson-Green. I was surprised to learn that the designers and developers worked in isolation on the same project, resulting in redundant features that may have been anticipated earlier in the process.
Although cost is a non-issue in this case, this practice would prove costly to a design team with limited financial resources and time constraints. In this instance the cost, beside the lost revenue, was public humiliation and collective frustration on the part of users that were either misjudged or misunderstood.
If nothing else, the Windows 7 story is a cautionary tale of designing in a vacuum.
Conducting a comprehensive task analysis with shared goals and guidelines and following through with extensive user testing, should serve Microsoft well in the development of future products.