The back-end of usability

As a part-time columnist, I’ve gotten used to people disagreeing with my views. It’s just something that goes with the territory. However some of my recent columns, which focused on Web site user interface usability, in this and other publications, have drawn more criticism then usual. The criticisms were not as much focused on the viewpoints expressed, but more on the appearance that I was laying all the blame for Web site problems and failures purely on the shoulders of the GUI/User Experience designers.

Please let it here be known far and wide, that the failure of a Web site never rests solely on the shoulders of a single individual or group of individuals working on a specific feature of the site.

While it may be easy to point a finger at the most visible aspect of the site “the graphical user interface,” with a little effort one can identify weakness in all aspects of the site creation. I will now focus my attention away from the front-end developers and attack the back-end developers, what I like to call the back-end boys and girls. This group of individuals is comprised of the people who maintain and configure the Web server, the application sever, the systems engineers, the software engineers, the database administrators and all the developers who write the back-end server code such as CGI scripts, Java servlets, EJB etc. – basically anyone who has anything to do with the Web site besides coding HTML, Java scripts, designing what it looks like and defining its features. One must always ask what is the goal of the back-end boys and girls when it comes to Web site development?

Unfortunately, just like there are front-end developers who design only for their portfolios, there are back-end boys and girls who develop for their r