How to build software without getting in your own way

One of the “books” I’m reading is the new one from Basecamp, penned by Ryan Singer. One part (from chapter 4) jumped out at me this week as we get ready to work on the Quickbooks integration. They describe the process of using components and connections of an interface or feature to show the relationship and journey a user takes without the need for visual design. Here’s an excerpt:

There are three basic things we’ll draw:

Places: These are things you can navigate to, like screens, dialogs, or menus that pop up.

Affordances: These are things the user can act on, like buttons and fields. We consider interface copy to be an affordance, too. Reading it is an act that gives the user information for subsequent actions.

Connection lines: These show how the affordances take the user from place to place.

What has struck me the most about the book, and how they build software, is the uncanny ability to not get in their own way.

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