Defensive Design for the Web: How To Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points
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While reading the functional spec for a new 37express project we’re starting today, I came across something that I think should be required for every feature mentioned in a spec — the “at the very least” clause.
Like most specs, this spec details the key features and wish list for the web-based application. However, after each feature description they boil it down and say “at the very least” it needs to do this. So, in other words, we’d love it if it would do A B C and D, but at the very least it needs to do A.
This 1. helps them focus on the essence and key benefit of the feature, 2. helps them realize that all or nothing doesn’t need to be the only option, 3. helps us digest the feature set and consider the appropriate execution more quickly, and 4. gives us a common ground on which to discuss potentially complex features.
Boiling down features to their core bit of utility is an excellent excercise that makes the end product better. I applaud this client for taking the time to do it and I hope others follow suit. It’s a win-win and a stellar example of smart document design.