Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Think of the user!

Good O.R. has to be implemented. Period. Full stop.
So, at some stage, someone needs to think of the person who will use the results. The problem may have been presented by management, and the person who pays for the work is in the management hierarchy, but the person who actually uses the results is probably not in management. Which is why implementation is important.
I have linked implementation and design before, but over the Christmas holiday we had experience of both good design (implementation) and bad.
Let's start with the bad news. We bought a new set of Christmas lights to make an arch around the front door. They came with an integral control box which had one button only. Repeated pressing of the button cycled through several patterns of flashing lights, with one where all bulbs stayed on all the time. So we put the string of lights up, switched on and discovered that the default was a pattern which faded and flashed -- too garish for us. So we cycled and selected the constant selection. Then we switched off, to put the string onto a time switch. When it came on, we were back to the default. As a result, at some stage every evening, yours truly had to press the button to select our favoured setting. With a little forethought, the designer could have ensured that the setting that had been selected became the default one for the next off--on sequence ... because that is what the user had expressed a wish to show what was wanted.
The good news was that Tina was given a DAB radio. Plug it in, switch it on, and set up the controls. It was extremely easy, with clear instructions, designed with the user in mind. Full marks for those at "Pure" for thinking of the user.

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