When I hear this phrase it is occasionally followed by a sort of forlorn sense of resignation (and the urge to say ‘well, your design is shit’), but more often by hope that a healthy, spirited discussion is about to take place – especially when that phrase is subsequently followed by ‘No user would ever do that’.
I’m not saying I’m the gods’ gift to usability design or anything like that, but I do think that the phrase ‘It’s supposed to be like that’ is often code for ‘You might have a valid concern, but it doesn’t neatly fit into the model that works for me, so it’s your problem, thankyounext’. To me, it’s an argument on an intellectual par with ‘eh eh eeeeeeh!‘.
Rather than being helpful, it sets up a contrary position that doesn’t invite further (positive) dialogue. Of course, you might use an answer like this as an educational tool or test to see how well people cope with it, but as a valid answer to a concern that a bug exists, it has limited value that I can see.
I am also not saying that the person who invokes the ‘not a bug’ incantation is necessarily wrong. They may have a perfectly valid point as to why something is not a bug, and that indeed the design does make sense. However, to arbitrarily shut down someone’s question closes them to the possibility that the design is flawed, or could be improved (which is also a possibility, no matter how much they may wish otherwise).
Take for example the ‘maximise vs. snap-to-fit agument‘ – That the Windows OS ‘maximises’ windows, and the Mac OS snaps to fit the content. I don’t necessarily want to get into which is ‘right’, but more to have a look at the presupposition in the argument around it. Specifically, the comments of Alex Chamberlain that Jeff Atwood quotes:
This is a textbook example of how Microsoft’s programmers got the original Mac GUI wrong when they copied it for Win 3.1, and never bothered to fix it: there’s no zoom button on Mac OS windows because it’s unnecessary. What you’re mistaking for a “maximize” button is actually a “snap window to size of contents” button. Far more useful and elegant. Once again, Microsoft has no taste and no clue when it comes to the GUI. All that money and Gates has never been able to hire a decent human factors person.
If this is indeed the entirety of the quote, then it is perhaps one of the most unhelpful stances you could take on the matter. Windows is wrong. Mac is right, and more useful and more elegant, M$ is teh suxxorz. Here’s the dogma I’ve been indoctrinated with, I expect you to swallow it without question, end of story.
The presupposition that MS got it wrong leaves no room to explore whether the difference is an improvement. Different isn’t necessarily wrong. Different is different. Sometimes, different is better whether it’s intended or not.
Why is snap to fit far more useful and elegant? What is it about the windows interface specifically that is clueless and tasteless? There are things that I personally am not a fan of in both environments. Why is maximise unnecessary? What specifically needs fixing?
I can see the relevance of having the window maximised. If like me you’re particularly uncoordinated, and you want to use the scrollbar, you might overshoot the thing two or three times before catching it, but with a maximised window you have unlimited screen real estate in at least one direction.
I don’t immediately see why snapping to fit the content is either more elegant or more useful – I’m about to go and have a look, but the difference is, I’m not immediately dismissing the possibility that it could be.
As a software tester, you’re going to eventually come up against people who are threatened or otherwise upset when you challenge their ideas and opinions. Don’t take it personally. They’re just trying to do their job as much as you are yours. Don’t be intimidated either. If you don’t have many years of experience, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you don’t have anything useful to offer. If you have questions, ask.
If you can show the person you’re asking that you’re on the same side, and trying to provide them with a service, then your audience is likely to be more receptive and arguments like ‘follow the gourd!’ can be avoided.