User Specification Comic Strips
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How Great Products are designed The Boss: Go talk to marketing. Dilbert: Groan Dilbert: Dave, tell me what marketing wants the new product to do. Dave: It has to have a 45 inch screen and still fit in a purse or a wallet. Dave: It needs to act as a communications satellite as well as a room fresher. Dilbert: uh... Dave: it must cure deadly diseases and whoyten your teeth while you sleep! HAHA! and it has to be capable of time travel!! and have a telepathic user interface! Slap! Dilbert: I could write a program that makes fish appear on the computer screen, DAVE: yeah a lot of people want that.
"My user representative is the stupidest..." "No way! My user is the stupidest." "Oh yeah?! Let's have a little wager. Go get your user and I'll get mine!" "You're on!" "Have another scone, Tom." "You're right. They do look just like styrofoam cups." "It's a new paradigm..."
The Boss: Our new strategy is to make defective products and charge for technical support. Heh- heh ...our user manual is totally incomprehensible. we didn't plan it that way - we were lucky, Dilbert: Im so proud to be here. The Boss: It all came together when I realized I hate our customers.
"We could design the product with a simple point - and - click interface..." "Or we could require the user to choose among thousands of poorly documented commands, each of which must be typed exactly right on the first try." "Bear in mind, we'll never meet a customer ourselves." "Make it so they have to reboot after every typo."
Dilbert stands behind a man with an eye patch who is working on his computer. The man says, "My theory is that a computer interface should hurt the user." The man continues, "So I designed some new sounds into our product. We've got 'sound of puking,' 'fingernails on blackboard' and 'bird hitting window.'" Dilbert looks ill. The man continues, "But suppose the user does something WRONG. Then we have the sound of a puking bird hitting a blackboard." Dilbert falls down.
Dilbert is in a computer retail store. The salesman points to a computer and explains, ". . . but by far, this computer is our most user-friendly." The salesman continues, "The pre-installed software has only one button. And we press it before it leaves the factory." Dilbert asks, "What does it do?" The salesman waves his hands and says, "Whoa! I'm in over my head. Let me give you their tech support number."
Ratbert, the Boss and Dilbert sit at a conference table. Ratbert says, "I recommend standardizing on one type of computer for the office." Ratbert continues, "We must identify and eliminate the deviant users of Macintosh, Unix and . . . God help us . . . OS/2 Warp." Dilbert glares at him. The caption reads, "The Holy Wars Begin." Ratbert interrogates a man being held by police. Ratbert says, "Don't lie to me, Gustav! You're a stinkin' Mac user!!"
Wally approaches another employee and says, "Hold it right there, buddy." Wally continues, "That scruffy beard . . . those suspenders . . . that smug expression . . ." Wally concludes, "You're one of those condescending Unix computer users!" The man responds, "Here'a nickel, kid. Get yourself a better computer."
Wally sits at his desk and Dilbert stands behind him. The Boss enters and says, "I made a few changes to the design." Dilbert reads a document and looks shocked. He says, "We'll have to work around the clock for months to make these changes!!" The Boss says, "Work smarter, not harder." Wally looks at the changes and says, "You're trying to violate the laws of physics!" The Boss replies, "Rules were made to be broken." Dilbert says, "This design would create enough radiation to instantly kill the user!!" The Boss walks away and says, "Be sure to mention that in the documentation." Dilbert says to Wally, "Let's work smarter not harder." Wally replies, "I think we found the only 'beta' tester we'll need."
Dilbert, Wally, Alice and the Boss sit at a conference table. Dilbert says, "The project status is 'yellow light.'" Dilbert continues, "In user tests we found that the product locks up every twelve seconds. The interface is incomprehensible and the manual is pure fiction." Dilbert continues, "I think it's clear what we need to do . . ." The Boss asks, "Ship it and hope somebody writes a 'Dummies' book about it?"