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I'm asking that because, in my own experience, I sometimes have to use less usable or less featured competitors just because of a poor reliability of the tool of my choice. It makes me think that people often goes for features (and good user interface, etc) because of market trends or competitors or whatever, and doesn't take reliability into an account.

And as a former developer and an UX consultant at the moment, I always try to predict (and discuss) complexity of the solution I suggest to my clients to be sure serviceability will be at the same level as UI and overall functionality.

I believe that not all of the UX people have a strong technical background, so how you deal with that (if at all)? Do you think that UX discipline should take the reliability into an account or despite the fact that it's somehow connected with UX it should be handled by someone else (like engineering team, etc)?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Of course reliability is part of the user experience. But in Maslov terms it is a dis-satisfier rather than a satisfier. In other words, being reliable doesn't gain you any points, but not being reliable certainly loses you points.


Yes, a usability person should be aware of the limitations imposed by the technology and framework stacks that will be used. Problems in these cannot usually be resolved easily and should be designed around.

Reliability issues can come from two main sources:

  • They can be inherent to the technology and framework stacks. In other words, they are a result of the hardware and software chosen on which to build your solution. Usually there isn't much you can do, but wait for a new release, so you have to address these issues by designing around them.

  • They can be the result of the way the design is implemented on top of the technology and framework stacks. In other words, they are the result of the application's own specific code. These reliability issues should be addressed by better implementations, not by working around them in the design.

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+1 for thinking of it as a dis-satisfier. A useful mind shift. – JohnGB Dec 1 '12 at 13:08
Thanks, @Marjan, for a good catch about dis-satisfier, but does it mean I should always prefer usability over reliability? I mean, should I, being an UX person think about reliability while solving an usability issue? For example, I can imagine a completely new UI which will be too slow because of technology limitations or something. Should I put effort into it anyway or should I suggest a more reliable (and maybe less powerful) solution? – alexeypegov Dec 1 '12 at 13:40

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