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Joel on Software

2000/11/09

by Joel Spolsky
Thursday, November 09, 2000

Is Bush going to actually be the next president because of a usability bug?

picture-ballot:

"If your program model is nontrivial, it's probably not the user model." (from Chapter 2 of UI design for programmers) Any time you do something even a little bit complicated, some part of your user population is going to be confused, because they thought that you were doing the simple thing.

Obviously, usability matters for more than just web sites. Tog writes about this in When Interfaces Kill. And this Florida ballot is going to show up in UI books for the next 100 years.

Florida's Web Site

The Florida Department of State web server is bogged down from zillions of people checking election results. State CIO Gene Bryan is quoted by CNN as saying, "There's not a whole lot you can do other than just get through the night and try to regroup in the morning to get some additional resources to handle the workload."

Um, hello? They've got 4 or five stupid GIFs and a gratuitous scrolling Java applet on that damn page. No wonder you can't handle the load. Clue: Turn off the applet and GIFs for a couple of weeks. Duh. Any half-baked web developer would know that.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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