Why are researchers afraid of developers?

 

The other evening I was at a party with a whole lot of UX-y people, some of them very accomplished and some of them new to the craft. I grabbed an egg nog (this is why I love this time of the year!) and stepped up to a cluster of people. I knew a couple of them, and as I entered the circle, I overheard one of them saying that he had attended a workshop at his place of work that day on how to talk to developers, and it had really helped.

 

“Helped what?” I said. But what I’d thought was Good lord, it’s not as if developers are a different species. What’s going on here? As I listened longer, I heard others in the circle sympathize. They were afraid of the developers who they were supposed to be on the same team with.

 

Researchers are intimidated by developers because developers have two superpowers. They Make and they Ship. Researchers don’t. Researchers and the data they produce actually get in the way of making and shipping.

 

Developers are not rewarded for listening to researchers. They’re generally not rewarded for implementing findings from research about users.¬†Learning about research results means that it takes more time to do the right thing based on data. (Let’s not even get into getting developers to participate in research.) It makes it harder and more time consuming to ship when you pay attention to research data. Everything about application development methodology is optimized for shipping. Application development processes are not optimized¬†for making something superb that will lead to an excellent user experience.

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