From Designing from Both Sides of the Screen:

Engineers are rightly trained to think of edge cases, those rare but possible events the program has to handle. Since there are more edge cases than common cases, and since undressed edge cases can break the system, engineers spend more of their energy thinking about them. Interaction designers are trained to think of the common case, since that’s what most people encounter most of the time. Interaction designers spend most of their time polishing the common case, because the usability bang for the buck is much greater. Each of these approached is correct for its discipline. The problem comes when engineers apply edge case mentality to interaction design. When designing an interface, make sure the common case is handled elegantly and the rare cases are handled adequately. (Designers, too, can cause problems by ignoring the edge cases and not specifying how the engineers should handle them. Rare or not, they have to be designed.)

Of course, one’d be wise to add the “money-bags case”: “make sure that whatever your higest paying customers encounter works perfectly.”

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