Building a Safety Net
After our alpha test, we had a round table discussion with the involved developers, the alpha testers, and the rest of the product owner-y type people. They talked about what they liked, disliked, general wrap-up business. One of the greatest compliments we received was from a seasoned pathologist who has seen plenty of other lab information systems; what he said was:
One thing I love about this system is it made me feel like I couldn’t get hurt.
That is a thing to strive for.
Pathologists can really get hurt if a system is not built well. Their patients can get hurt. Our patients can get hurt. We built in so many safety nets so that users do not have to worry about screwing up. Users should be concerned with the task at hand, not with worrying about how software will react or if something is going to get messed up and affect patient care. It was an honor that he said this to us, and I am proud of our system for making him feel completely comfortable entrusting people’s lives to our software.
Medical software aside, I think all software should make you feel like this. You should never feel painted into a corner or like you can’t go back and change something. Users should always feel safe and comfortable using your software, and by your team doing plenty of thinking up front, users will not have to concern themselves with it. By building software as such, you are allowing them to focus on their workflow and tasks without having to worry about whether or not they will get hurt or hurt someone else.
Think about how they will unconsciously or consciously screw up, and make sure they can’t. Or if they can, make sure they are damn aware of it and able to fix their error without a whole lot of extra steps. No one should have to suffer anxiety when using software, and we all do far too often.
This is something we can fix.