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Design for Software: A Playbook for Developers by Erik Klimczak

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Chapter 4: Information Architecture

“I managed to get all 30 features on one screen . . . but something doesn’t seem right”

THIS CHAPTER STARTS with a familiar story. Imagine that you’re at a diner, and it’s time to pay the bill. You panic for a moment when the bill arrives, and you read the words “cash only” printed at the bottom. Sitting on your flat, empty wallet, you start to scan the room for an ATM. You’re in luck! Finding an ATM near the entrance, you eagerly head its way. After being prompted for your ATM card, the machine sucks it in, and you’re ready to complete your transaction. When the cash is dispensed, you snatch the bills from the machine. Relieved, you quickly head back to the table. Phew, crisis averted. There’s only one problem—you left your card in the ATM machine! You rush back to the ATM, but it’s too late. The card is a goner. After a sigh of frustration, you curse yourself and go on your way.

If this has happened to you, you know how frustrating it is, and you can’t help but feel foolish for making such an obvious mistake. Well, don’t get too down on yourself. Instead, take a step back and think about why the situation happened. The purpose of an ATM is to dispense cash, and the goal of the user is to retrieve cash. We, as users, use the machine’s interface as a means to an end. Being the task-oriented humans we are, once we accomplish our goal (getting the cash, in this case), our brains almost instantaneously discard any ancillary information that was ...

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