September 9, 2009
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Fun or Easy?

Glen Lipska asks which is more important: fun, or ease of learning? He argues that “most software developers get this exactly wrong.”

Most software developers and usability experts (shocker) focus on the easy part, rather than on the software being fun to use after they learn it.  I have been trying to value the opposite priorities.  Of course, I am not trying to make something hard to use.  Rather, I am focusing on making sure the thing is fun to use.  I still apply tons of usability techniques and make sure to include all the big UI five for the user.

Ed Blachman pointed this one out to me, drawing the connection to my NeoVictorian revival. And he’s got an even better point. He writes that we’re in a vicious cycle; “[enterprise software] developers decide we’re developing for drudges, so fun doesn’t matter; users are stuck with software that’s never any fun, so they regard using it as drudgework.” This is the textbook definition of alienation.

Fun is important. Results are even more important; getting the right answer, doing work that you could not do otherwise, beats fun and ease hands down. But, in the end, results are fun; they make you happy, they make customers happy, and along the way you’ll be rewarded with tokens that you can exchange for goods and services!

We talk far too much about first impressions and out of the box experiences, and far too little about letting people do things they couldn’t do before.