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Ungrateful users...

Ergh. I redesign a status page (that wasn't in the original statement of work) so it loads 10x as fast with a lot more userful information. Cleaned it up, tweaked it...

And all the users have to say is "that check mark is a little hard to see. Please make it bigger."

Not even a thank you.

I know, I know - the continuing checks are my thank you. But it still irks me.


Monday, June 16, 2003

That's the story of my (professional) life:

Chi Lambda
Monday, June 16, 2003

One of my co-workers worked hard to get the Ant build time from 15 minutes to 3. Guess the first response he get ? "Why do you put a result .ear file in such an unexpected place ?"

Monday, June 16, 2003

The users probably don't get thanked for doing their jobs either.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Developers that get annoyed by ungrateful users are less efficient. Get rid of the irky feeling and just fix the check mark thingy and any other suggestions you received and thank the requester for the suggestions.

As you discovered user inertia is a factor to be reckoned with. If you redesign a user interface and improve it 95%, but degrade 5%, guess what the next load of emails will be about. The rule is: Improvements should be 100%.

The problem is that 100% is a bit difficult to achieve in one step. To actually get there you can either improve the interface one step at the time, so you can back out of bad decisions, or have a beta test phase in which you handle the feedback.

I would probably put a line at the top of the new status page for as long as it takes saying "As you noticed we changed the status page to make it load faster, show more detailed information, [add other major improvements here]. If you have any suggestions or bug reports <email>tell us</email>. We love feedback and hate bugs as much as you do."

As a shrinkwrap developer I sometimes receive email rants like "Your stupid *&~!@# application completely sucks, because it doesn't do X or Y won't work". I always answer those with polite emails asking what specific problems they are having. In every single case I received emails back that they didn't expect us to answer at all and start explaining their actual problem in detail, which we try to fix in the next release. Guess who our most loyal and vocal users are.

Shock your users by actually listening and applying their suggestions and you will receive ample praise.

Jan Derk
Monday, June 16, 2003

When you're championing the cause of something you KNOW to be good but others don't (i.e. usabaility) then sometimes you have to be strong and gain your satisfaction that every little step you take is making things better.

Nobody ever thanks Politicians.

Monday, June 16, 2003

This thread struck a chord with me, but not because I get annoyed with people who aren't appreciative enough.

Rather, I've been on the other side...

Someone will be working on a task and show it to me for feedback.  So I will start giving feedback ("checkbox is too small").  Usually I can come up with a number of items, of varying difficulty to implement. I've been told that this is marginally worse than my other reaction - "That's great! Now, if you could just implement this next unrelated piece..."

From my perspective, the dramatic improvements are *expected*.  I think all of my developers are genuises and capable of anything (and I've said that to them, btw).  If I were to gush over a completely reorganized screen, that would be a sign that I was expecting garbage and the developer surprised me.  Furthermore, it's a normal part of the development cycle upon release to get back a wave of suggestions and problems, because nothing is perfect. 

Finally, I personally don't derive my sense of self-worth (perhaps not the right word) from the praise of others.  If I've done a good job on something, that's good enough for me.  I also don't interpret change lists as a huge blow to my ego, nor a sign that my changes aren't "good enough".  They are just the next thing to do.

That said, I make a huge effort now to "praise" my staff, and they appreciate it. 

My suggestion, if you are feeling under-appreciated, is to consider that you don't have control over the actions of others.  So to derive your satisfaction from exterior praise is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Praise yourself when you are done something :)  View the lack of comments as a compliment.  You know you've accomplished something worthwhile and really great.  If you have received no comments, it's a sign that your users expect really great stuff from you.  Stop treating change requests as a sign that your changes weren't "good enough".  They are just opportunities to make an already great thing better (you already know you did a great job, right?).

Those are the things you can do that you have control over.

Secondly, let whoever is not praising you know that you feel underappreciated because they never praise out loud (in a friendly and non-threatening way).  I had no idea that people were feeling underappreciated until they said as much.

Somewhere previously in this thread someone suggested sending out an email asking for feedback and comments.  To someone like me, that's an invitation for a laundry list of changes.  You need to be a lot more explicit.  I suppose something like: "If you like feature x, please let us know" might work.  Or "Try out x feature.  If we receive fewer than x positive comments, we will revert back to the previous state." (a more aggressive approach).

Monday, June 16, 2003


Get it over it dude.  That's the nature of the business.  Nobody recoginizes your work until you screw up. 

On the other hand,  a little criticism never hurts (ok, maybe only your pride).  If it's valid, then it will only make your program better.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Something one of my coworkers told me on my first day of my first IT job out of college:

"If you do things right, people won't be sure if you've done anything at all."

Greg Hurlman
Monday, June 16, 2003

You should read about the B_ Operator From Hell ( see the thread Best Practices for Dealing With Users.)

Admirer of BOFH
Monday, June 16, 2003

One of my favorites on my quip list: "The trouble with doing things right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was."

I like the suggestion of asking for comments right on the form that was changed. Of course, I'm also one of those who would take such a screen as an invitation to submit a laundry list... :)

Monday, June 16, 2003

In the telecom world, there's an old saying, "Dial tone comes from God."  It just means that, if you're doing your job right, people just assume that dial tone will always be there; it's just the natural result of lifting the handset, right?  The downside is that no one understands the amount of work that goes into making that happen...

Spaghetti Rustler
Monday, June 16, 2003

It's simply easier to criticize than it is to praise. Most people have the good thought but it passes out of their minds - people hate to compliment and be shot down. It's easier to criticize. Just look at the "critique my website" thread. That was a perfectly good, usable website, and all we did was tear him to shreds.
Monday, June 16, 2003

phibian>If I were to gush over a completely reorganized screen, that would be a sign that I was expecting garbage and the developer surprised me.

I'm sure some people would take it that way.  I wouldn't.  I would take it as a sign that you really liked the work I did, and that would make me feel good.


Monday, June 16, 2003

[nod] Especially on this one, where I really went out on a limb, usability-wise. I was waiting for some kind of feedback, positive or negative. I have to read between the lines that "can you make the checkmarks bigger" means "the rest of it looks okay to me" [shrug]


Monday, June 16, 2003

Sym link their home directories to /dev/null

Monday, June 16, 2003

You know what's funny? The vast majority of the time, "thanks" or any similar sort of pleasantry is of almost entirely no value. Don't really care if someone says thank you or hi or bye or have a nice day, or anything like that.

...unless they don't. Then you think "why didn't they say [x]?"

Is there a word for something that is of no positive perceived value when it is present, but is of considerable negative value when/if it is not?

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Sometimes it works the other way. I was implementing screen menus in DOS (a long time ago). I changed some 'Loading...' text to display flashing (total time to implement about 2 minutes) and for days afterwards people were coming up to me and thanking me.

David Clayworth
Thursday, June 19, 2003

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