In last week’s Twit Triangulation podcast I enjoyed listening to Mr.Alan Cooper the father of Visual Basic, whose works I admire a lot. His book on “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design” has had a profound influence on how I have been designing software solutions for the last 15+ years. The computer industry has been built by numerous talented engineers but it has had only a handful of pioneers like Mr.Cooper who have put the users first when they design their products.

Mr.Cooper has long argued against software throwing dialog boxes and displaying error messages. He twists the popular saying “Form follows Function” to “Form follows Function to hell” if you apply it for Software.

He says as a “designer I am a professional critic, as a programmer I am a perfectionist“. In the podcast Cooper calls himself an “Alexandrian designer“, in reverence to Christopher W.Alexander who was a respected Architect and author of many books including “Notes on the Synthesis of Form”. Continuing on  Cooper says “Designers are to be in service of their users. I am not a designer who says you will build my vision, because it’s not about my vision; it’s about solving a problem presented by the outside world“. What a profound statement. If more designers in the technology industry listen to this, we will have a “magical” human-computer relationship.

For more on this topic, I will encourage you to read Cooper’s books including “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum“, where he highlights the peril of letting engineers run the show!

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