alpaca princess (renniekins) wrote,
alpaca princess

The Ugly Screen

It started a few weeks ago, when our Business Analyst told us to add a whole bunch of fields to a database table. "...but we need a way to test that it works," he said. "So I need you to make an ugly user interface for it. Just slap all the fields on the screen, so I know the data made it into the table."

"Wait," I said. "You want us to write an ugly screen?"

"Yes, something ugly, just a quick way for us to verify that all the fields are there. Eventually we'll play a card that makes it look like the users want, but not this iteration."

"We could make it look good," I suggested. "Just give us a printscreen of what they have now. We'll at least use that as a starting point, so it'll be going in the right direction."

"No no, I don't want you to invest any time in it now. Just leave it ugly."

"You really want the screen to be ugly."

"Yes, don't put any effort into it. Just an ugly UI."

"Okay, if that's what you really want... I can make it ugly."

It went against everything I knew! But if he wanted an ugly screen....well darn it, I could make it ugly. I had a lot of fun with it, actually! The only sad part was that I was on vacation on the day he saw the finished product, so I didn't get to experience his reaction first-hand.

I consider the Ugly Screen to a valuable BA lesson, though I don't know if he took it as such! Don't tell your programmers to do bad work. And don't ask for an ugly user interface unless you want something seriously painful to look at.

Since this is just a screen-print, you don't get the full effect. The monkeys? They're not just normal pirate monkeys. They are actually flying across the screen, along with the title in the yellow stripe. ("Flying monkeys" is a favorite expression of the guy who asked for the screen.)

I'm particularly proud of this screen because, aside from the monkeys and the scary colors, it's a perfectly functional and easy to use screen. Once we stripped out CSS colors, and removed the monkeys and the marquee tags, it easily became a relatively useful page. Much nicer than simply dumping the fields onto the screen -- and more fun to write, too!
Tags: humor, story, work
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