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10 Inspiring Alan Cooper Quotes For Designers and Programmers

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November 4, 2021 March 8, 2022 7 min
Rita Asta photo Author by: Rita Asta

The Father of Visual Basic. Perhaps, many programmers and web designers have heard about this man. Alan Cooper is one of the best and most experienced designers in the United States today. He is called the father of Visual Basic because he proposed the principle of linking the language and the graphical interface.

In this article, we are going to tell you more about the life and career of this successful character in designing a world of design, as well as inspire you with some of his prominent thoughts.

First of all, it should be mentioned that Alan Cooper was born in San Francisco, California. He studied architecture at the College of Marin. Cooper self-studied software engineering to pay his tuition. In 1975 he decided to leave college to take up programming professionally. So, Cooper joined the team of Gordon Eubanks and Garry Kiddal, who at that time had developed operational systems. They worked together with Alan Cooper on the CBASIC programming language, an early competitor to Bill Gates and Paul Alan’s Microsoft BASIC.

RUBY

In 1988 Alan Cooper created a visual programming language code-named “Ruby.” The special feature of the creation was the combination of the language and the software. Cooper presented his idea to Bill Gates. Bill noticed very great potential in this language, so Microsoft immediately bought it.

The company expanded and transformed the product into a professional tool for developing software for its programming language QuickBASIC and gave it the name Visual Basic. Features of this “Ruby” language allowed wide use of their products for the creation of software for Windows-based computers. In addition, with the help of the program, it became possible to create and design a functional interface. Cooper, in fact, became the father of Visual Basic and gave birth to UX design.

User-friendly Interface

Alan Cooper was the first to believe that any web or app interface should not only be functional, but user-friendly. In his first book, he reports that something important was missing—software creators didn’t care about how users interacted with their creations. Also, the designer’s early insights made him create a design process that included both coding and designing. Thanks to Cooper’s insight, nowadays we have such user-friendly interfaces on websites and apps on our smartphones.

6 Alan Cooper Design Principles

While making art, you should do what is in your heart.

Take things away until the design breaks, then put that last thing back in.

I like so many different kinds of music that I like experimenting. I don’t want to keep making the same record over and over and over. I’m an ‘evolve or die’ kind of a musician. I think it’s cool to try new things.

If we want users to like our software we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful.

Usability’s strength is in identifying problems, while design’s strength is in identifying solutions.

Keep it simple: In general, interfaces should use simple geometric forms, minimal contours, and a restricted color palette comprised primarily of less-saturated or neutral colors, balanced with a few high contrast accent colors that emphasize important information. Typography should not vary widely in an interface.

Books

Alan Cooper described his vision of design and software development in his books About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design (1995) and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (1998) which are considered to be the basic literature on UX design.

About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design

Interaction Design is a human-centered approach to designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. Much attention is given to behavioral design, an aspect often neglected by traditional design disciplines.

This book emphasizes a goal-oriented approach in which designers focus on users’ goals (i.e., why they use the product), their expectations, worldview, and inclinations. This is what makes it possible to create powerful solutions that are a pleasure to work with.

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

How do we resist the onslaught of computer technology that is entering our lives at an alarming rate? Our phones, our cameras, our cars… everything around us is automated, programmed, and created by people who, seeking to benefit from the use of microchips, have shirked their direct responsibility to make these products easy to use. And this is not an exaggeration, it is reality. Our lives are increasingly centered around the vagaries, oddities, decisions, and disasters of the high-tech industry. Software, device, and technology developers think differently than we do. Empowered executives have no control over anything in the high-tech world—engineers run everything. We let the patients take over the asylum. In his book, Alan Cooper offers a solution to the problem: programming must precede engineering.

10 Quotes by Alan Cooper to Inspire You

“No matter how beautiful, no matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.”

“A powerful tool in the early stages of developing scenarios is to pretend the interface is magic.”

“Ironically, the thing that will likely make the least improvement in the ease of use of software-based products is a new technology.”

“Eric Raymond says, ‘Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to reuse.’”

“You can get spiritual things out of books and stories and they have nothing to do with religion.”

“Like putting an Armani suit on Attila the Hun, interface design only tells how to dress up an existing behavior.”

“You can predict which features in any new technology will be used and which won’t. The use of a feature is inversely proportional to the amount of interaction needed to control.”

“The only thing more expensive than writing software is writing bad software.”

“Product successes and failures have shown repeatedly that users don’t care that much about features. Users only care about achieving their goals.”

“We seem to be keeping old fans and are bringing on new fans that are teenagers. I think that is amazing. When I was a teenager, that was when I fell in love with music. It affected me in a deep way.”

Alan Cooper is the person who changed the notion of interface design. He is a programmer with an extremely artistic mind and a musician at heart. His books are a must-read for young designers who really want to become successful in their favorite field.
Keep learning from the greatest to become one of the greatest someday 😉

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Freelance copywriter
Rita Asta is a freelance writer who is interested in modern technology, web design, history of design, and popular culture.
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