There should be a law. Well maybe not so much a law as a stipulation of employment. This law or stipulation should force designers to work with the systems, product, or sites that they build.
I’ve been doing some adjusting on this site recently, and the more I start using it myself (to refer back to old posts, to comment on fresh posts, and so forth) the more I see ways where things could be done better.
The comment sections have seen the most change recently. I’ve bumped up the font size in the comment boxes, and increased the height by a few lines. Why? Beause they were too hard to use for longer comments. I added a numbering system to the individual comments. Why? Because I was noticing it was too hard to scroll the list and keep track of where I was after so a few pages of comments.
(And I should digress here — there have been some excellent threads recently. I’m very impressed with the thoughtfulness I’m seeing, and I’m still thrilled every time I get another reply.)
My archives are pretty klunky right now. I spent some time a few months ago putting together the current calendar system, which is fine I suppose, but what I really need is a way to browse by subject. Dates aren’t nearly as important as what the post was about. This I’ve discovered only by having to go back to find a reference, and actually being forced to use the system I’ve built.
I’ve been working on a few site managers and planning systems lately where interface and usability are crucial to the process. Unfortunately, the budget and time constraints are such that usability is planned in advance, but once the system is built there is no further refinement. This is a problem. The best possible usability feedback comes not from the designer looking at a database and figuring out how the tables and forms interact, but from the users who spend significant amounts of time interacting with the system and actually trying to get things done with it.