You just have to remember to…

The following is an offshoot of the Simplify article.

Oh man, I know we are in trouble when I hear a sentence of the form, “It’s easy. You just have to remember to push button A every time B happens.” People aren’t going to remember to push button A. You will go on vacation and forget to teach this rule to your coworker who is covering your duties. You will be hit by a truck and your replacement will not know about the rule. But most important, YOU will forget to push button A even though you invented this process. Redesign the process so that a computer automatically pushes button A whenever B happens. Even better, redesign the process so that nothing special needs to be done when B happens!

This comes up in software user interface design and in business processes. When you have a procedure that can be done incorrectly, it is easy to give users a new rule to follow. It is much harder to redesign the procedure so that the bad thing can’t happen. Don’t be lazy and make lots of rules for complicated procedures. Do the hard work of streamlining. In some cases you are better off just dropping a feature that is inherently danger prone.

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About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.

One Comment

  1. Alan Hutchison August 3, 2011 at 3:00 am

    Jeff – this is so true – my wife has just started working with me full time to manage our studio, and I’ve been teaching her the various processes for client management, accounts etc and I find myself saying the “remember to press button A every time B happens” thing so often. Of course each time I also say we need to look at streamlining this LOL.

    Great advice!

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