There’s a great Jeffrey Zeldman article up at the moment, seemingly about some designs he did for a job, but if you read on about design being appropriate for the intended use. This is along similar lines to Simon’s previous post about Best Practice, but most interesting to me because it’s from the other direction — Simon is a blatant techie, Zeldman a designer. And as he rightly points out in his article, this distinction is probably not the most useful thing in the world, it is nice to see the often disparate groups agreeing on something for once.

Personally I’m a strong believer in tools and solutions appropriate to the task. I’m the one in design meetings saying things like “Yes, I know that we _can_ do that, but why the hell would the users want it?” and “Of course it would be fun to implement, but surely the time would be better spent making the real tasks less arcane to perform?” I really don’t need a dancing singing midget to help me pick my groceries … but hell, a decent search would be really nice!

As I touched upon previously in my Because We Are Geeks entry, some of the things that make us who we are make us really unsuitable for developing things for normal people. Although my previous paragraph might belie it, I am as likely to sit tinkering with something just to see how it works as the next geek. But I’ve seen mainstream features lacking because the developers were too busy focusing on the cool, fun stuff often enough that I’ve trained myself to be a bit more pragmatic about it. The cool fun stuff can be there, but only once everything else is rocksolid and good. I think this is what both Simon and Zeldman are getting at — we need to get better at delivering the whole picture to great quality first and then focus on our particular areas of interest and specialty.

And we might just make it, if only we didn’t all have N.A.D.D 😉