Living with bugs

05Mar08

Sometimes we get so used to dealing with bugs in the products we use that we forget these defects even exist. In other cases, we’re acutely aware of the issue but we stop using that feature for other reasons, so the problem fades from view. For me, the file upload window in Salesforce.com is a great example of this dynamic at work.

A few years ago, I regularly uploaded a lot of files to Salesforce. The first few times I did a large upload, I tried to minimize or hide the window so I could do other work. Without fail, the window would disappear, but nothing was uploaded. Eventually, I learned that if you don’t leave the window in the front, the process is cancelled — without any warning, of course. From that point on, I became accustomed to this silly process, and didn’t think much about it.

Fast forward to the present. These days, I don’t upload files to Salesforce very often, but I needed to send a big document yesterday. So what did I do? Having forgotten the “right” way to babysit the window, I tried to minimize it after the upload began. And just like old times, the process was cancelled instantly. Apparently, nobody at Salesforce saw fit to fix this in the past 18 months or so. Because I only use the uploader once in a while, I got to rediscover this bug anew.

What’s my point here? I guess you could sum it up like this: Frequent users often become accustomed to bugs in your product, and may never tell you about them. New users, or those who are coming back after a long absence, are more likely to notice these issues. So the next time you’re thinking of ignoring a bug report because the person reporting it is a newbie, you might want to think about whether that perspective makes their feedback even more valuable.



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