Does anyone have any idea for the 'must know' subjects(in high level) that a software developer must know and understand when he working on a user interface? The reason im asking is that im a PM in my company and sometimes im facing scenarios where SW developers doesnt notice basic mistakes in UX.

As a result I would like to make a short session on the must have articles/subjects(around 1.5 hr) for the R&D developers.

3 Answers 3


I'm going to recommend 3 books for you.

Don't Make Me Think is a very brief (each page is like a paragraph), funny introduction into the UX mantra. It gives you a more holistic view of the people using your product, instead of focusing narrowly on just the product itself. You can read this book in one short afternoon.

The Inmates are Running the Asylum is incredible and just the book you're looking for. It's written by Alan Cooper, the guy who created Visual Basic and wrote the prominent book, About Face. He talks about the struggle of a project manager dealing with software developers. He basically makes really pointed jabs at them that'll carry with you for the rest of your life. You can use this book to teach your programmers really common sense stuff. Please make the effort to read it all the way to the end, because that's where he really finds his groove and it gets interesting. The whole thing is pretty interesting.

Sketching User Experiences is another pretty quick read, but I'm going to recommend The Inmates are Running the Asylum as more important if you have to pick one. Sketching User Experiences basically describes how to effectively communicate design ideas and can help you get a sense of design culture. The ideas are really fascinating, too, like how you should propose more than one idea so you and your team can work on deciding the best option, not about me vs them. And how you should present ideas as really rough and crappy looking sketches, showing you're not too committed to the idea and it's ok to criticize. (I basically summed up the important parts of the book for you).


Not all developers are as sensitive to UX (they might have other qualities).

My advice:

  1. Harvest on the UX skills that might already be present: Identify those developers that have a sense for it, recognize them and encourage them to speak up in their team.

  2. Grow and maintain a UX checklist that everybody can apply. Don't try to cover all UX mistakes, only recurring ones that are insensitive to personal interpretation. Don't expect too much from such a list. If you manage to install the discipline of using the checklist, it merely offloads your ux advisors from repetitive tasks. You still need dedicated UX professionals.

Eg. In my company, this list contains items such as

  • capitalization rules,
  • some simple recurring layout errors
  • placement of OK and Cancel buttons
  • use of ellipsis (...)
  • avoid check boxes with negative wording (double negations)
  • lists of words to avoid (system, You, I, We, ...)
  • error messages to include advice/remedy
  • ...

The best thing is to start with common mistakes in your product made by your team, not with some list off the internet. And update as you go along.


UX is a bridge between many fields.

  1. Software development - taking into consideration performance and even choosing compilers can have an impact on your program.
  2. Design - how it looks has a massive impact on users, given their culture and other factors.
  3. Psychology - this and HCI play a massive part in UX

And there's probably more, it's a huge field. So to say they're missing "basic things" is like saying something is common sense. It's all relative and highly subjective.

For articles Nielsen Normann has some really good stuff on this area. A list apart has some good blog posts and articles on this. Smashing magazine has really good books and not just on UX. They have really good resources for prototyping and mock ups etc.

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