The Clockwork Mind
...armed with the knowledge you get by simply paying attention...

Every change breaks someone's workflow

That’s the first line of The Windows Update, a story in The Daily WTF. Punchline: Sometimes you can fix a user’s problem by doing something that seems useless.

As a developer, the article is funny. As a developer on legacy systems, the article is also profound. I don’t know how often we’ve fixed something that was obviously wrong for years and ended up with upset users because their workaround had become part of their workflow.

You can’t do much about the icons changing during a Windows upgrade, but you can familiarize yourself with how people use your applications and try to anticipate problem areas. Consider that no one wants to work with a bad interface or an inefficient workflow, but if they’ve been dealing with it for years you need to treat any improvements as seriously as you would any new feature. Possibly more.

At the end of the day, you can judge yourself by how elegant or efficient your systems are, but everyone else will judge you based on whether your work brings about positive emotions.