Yeah, but can my mom use it?

I started a discussion with mpt about why open source software has such poor usability and agree with his response. Much of what he says also applies to the closed-source commercial software world where good interface design is also rare. The main distinguishing characteristic seems to be polish. In comparing two programs that have similar functionality, it’s the little things that make or break it. I had hoped that Mozilla hackers would concentrate on polish bugs prior to 1.0, and to some extent that has happened. There are still too many usability problems that directly relate to polish.

Usability problems need to be considered as important as broken functionality bugs. If users cannot use the feature it matters little that it technically “works”. David Hyatt’s comment that Chimera can automatically detect and offer to block evil popups is an example of 1) understanding the target user and 2) devising elegant solutions. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen this in action. If only this user-focused mindset was more prevalent in software development.

Blogs, blogs, and more blogs

Looks like many in the Mozilla community have blogs or recently started them. Chris Waterson has had a hardcore log of what he’s hacking for quite a while. There’s also Ben Goodger, Mike Pinkerton, Stuart Parmenter, Andrew Wooldridge, even Blake Ross. And it looks like David Hyatt‘s and Asa‘s blogs have moved to Mozillazine. There’s been a lack of news about the Mozilla project and now we have all these blogs. The more the merrier.

I really should test this

Because I’m feeling brave, or perhaps because I’ve been testing Mozilla so much that I don’t feel like doing more, I’ve decided to go ahead and launch my blog. At the same time, I revised my site’s home page and added a site map. I can already tell that the site map needs a few more levels of detail, but I’m tired and should be finishing my taxes anyway. Ick.