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Hanlon’s Razor

2 minutes read

Throughout the years, I've worked with different people, on different teams, across continents, in an office (I hated that), remote from home and from co-working spaces, on design, on development, helping testers, writing documentation and helping with strategy.

I've seen websites go down, teams go in panic mode, hot fixes going out minutes after a release, customers complaining they can't use the product and developers stressed about Friday 5PM's release.

And there was always something I needed to remind myself all the time.

Whenever something goes wrong, I can't assign blame and think someone actually wanted things to go wrong.

  • The homepage has some grey text on white. It's not really readable. The designer might have forgotten to check colour contrast.
  • You can't fill in the login form with your keyboard. The developer didn't know this was a requirement.
  • You're not sure if you added the product to the shopping cart if you're using a screen reader. The tester probably neglected to test that bit.
  • Some of the important images don't have an alternative text. The content team may have forgotten to provide these descriptions.
  • The form labels are not properly associated with their input fields. The developer might not have been aware of the correct HTML structure.
  • The headings are not in a logical hierarchical order. The content team might not have considered how this affects screen reader users.
  • There are no ARIA labels on interactive elements like buttons with only icons. The front-end developer might not have been trained in ARIA usage.

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect, ignorance, or incompetence.

That's Hanlon’s Razor.

I keep reminding myself of that.

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