Techies Tom and Terry were working on a web site about rodents for Fritz the Cat. Fritz’s collection was extensive, and he had named each one. So, the two guys started creating the online gallery of Fritz’s rodents.
The main page had types of rodents, like mice, rats, and hamsters. Each type had a link to a special page with all the names of that type of rodent listed out.
Tom and Terry thought they were done with their work, so they showed it to Fritz. “I want to know how many I have in each category,” said Fritz.
“Oh my,” sighed Tom. Their system had not made it easy to get at the number of a particular type of rodent. They only worked on listing them.
“Aha!” cried Terry. “We can use an ordered list when we output the rodents. That way, a user clicks on ‘chipmunks,’ say, and then on the next page, we see there are four.”
“A wonderful, simple, gorgeous, brilliant solution,” exclaimed Tom, who was happy to save himself the work of rewriting the system to count rodents.
Fritz grimmaced, because he was thinking of the poor user, having to click to a new page just to find out the number of hamsters. “No,” Fritz said, “it should look something like this.”
Tom and Terry whimpered in unison, and went back to re-write their code. Eventually they admitted Fritz was right. It was much better to have the count in parentheses on the first page and not make the user over-click.
If Fritz knew all the toil it would take to make the system count his rodents, he might have acquiesced to the poor solution. But Fritz was not thinking like a technician, so he was able to come up with the optimal solution.
Of course, even better would have been if Tom and Terry showed Fritz what it would look like before they finished all the coding, but we can’t always think ahead, can we? For what it’s worth, this is a true story, and I am Tom.