Over engineering web applications

ff_fig3.gifI’m sure that I’ve been guilty of writing some slightly dodgy user interfaces in my time as a web developer but College Web Guy recently posted a link to a story about an application at Penn University that takes usability and design to a whole new level.

The university have bought in a system called FacilityFocus which seems so complex that it led to a Professor writing a guide in how to conquer it. It talks you through some shocking design decisions:

You may be tempted to fill out some of the 23 temptingly-empty text boxes on this screen, with information like e-Mail (that’s easy) and “Desired Date” (that one’s a little personal, don’t you think?) — BUT DON’T! This is a search screen, and you’ve got nothing to search for yet, since you haven’t actually gotten your work request into the system.

While I hope that we wouldn’t produce anything like this, it’s a danger when you buy in products from third parties and it is sometimes difficult to keep the end user in focus when working closely with the “customer” to meet their requirements.