“All User Input is Error”

Updated: May 11

The Key Mindset of Platform Developers


By Bradley Clerkin
CTO, BreakFree Solutions


“All user input is error” is a design practice Elon Musk regularly highlights. It’s a profound concept for IT platforms. It expresses what we think separates good platform software from bad.

Good platform software delights the developer and helps them do their job better. Bad platform software tends to not be focused on user experience, but rather focuses on technical features.

Instead, we want to see our IT leaders understanding that developers, and this goes for just about anyone using Cloud and platform systems, want capabilities that allow them to do their job faster and more effectively. What we should be focused on is how can we simplify their use of these things, and by viewing all user input as error, you will be able to lead the evolution of your platforms towards an ideal state of maturity and function.

I’ve found that having our teams think on Musk’s statement, helps ground the path they take to achieving highly consumed and impactful cloud platforms. Also, I am an advocate of some simple ground rules for our platform and DevOps teams to help them achieve the ideal user experience with what they build. These include:

  1. Always starting with the customer and working their way back to a technical solution.

  2. Always mapping and measuring how their customers consume and operate, so they truly keep tabs on the customer experience.

  3. Ensuring feedback loops are in place with their customers.

Ultimately, keep your platform teams focused on user experience. Give them some ground rules that enforce a focus on customer experience over technical capabilities. Last but not least, learn from other industries where user experience is key. We can’t imagine a better company than Tesla to emulate in that sense.

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