The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
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Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author's experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.
industry makes the obvious assumption that that is the correct way to do things.  Microsoft's version-numbering logic is nonexistent. There were at least four major releases of Windows before Windows 3.0. Windows 3.1 was a dramatically different and improved version, with many major changes, and it clearly should have been called Windows 4.0. I'm sure that Microsoft marketing people called it 3.1 instead because they didn't want to squander the market equity already earned by "version three."
but few of them ever are. Managers look at the running prototype and ask, "Why can't we just use this?" The answer is too technically complex and too fraught with uncertainty to have sufficient force to dissuade the manager who sees what looks like a way to avoid months of expensive effort. The essence of good programming is deferred gratification. You put in all of the work up front, and then you reap the rewards later. There are very few tasks that aren't cheaper to do manually. Once written,
Although it was full of lots of "differentiating" features, it was missing necessary basic features that were standard in all other competing products. As might be expected, by the end of February, the board took action, and the CEO and VP of engineering were forced to step down. This is of course just a single anecdote. It might appear to be an isolated incident, except for the fact that this has happened repeatedly at companies where I have worked over the last 20-plus years. One thing I've
quotes. This one-page document becomes a ubiquitous part of our process. We print out copies of the cast of characters and distribute it at every meeting, whether or not the client is present. Every designer at all of our brainstorming meetings and all of our detailed design meetings has a cast-of-characters document in front of him at all times. When clients attend these meetings, extra copies are printed and presented to them. Every deliverable document that we create and give to our clients
idea that users really liked to move these palette windows to and fro on their screens as they worked. In every demonstration of the product, they proudly showed them off. Every one on our design team found the floating palettes intrusive, complicated, and completely unnecessary. Sure, the tools were needed, but we knew there were better ways to present them. Every time we said anything negative about them, though, the programmers—and product managers—would tell us how everyone used them a lot.