Sara Ford is a Sr. Product Manager at GitHub. Previously, she worked at Microsoft on Visual Studio and CodePlex. In 2015 Sara received her Masters degree in Human Factors (UX/HCI) at San Jose State by writing a Kinect application to study motor learning (aka how "muscle memory" is formed).
This is *not* a talk on proper UX design. What this talk will cover is what goes wrong cognitively when we try to design our own tools.
Have you ever watched the moon rise on the horizon and thought, "Wow! I've never seen the moon so big!" Sorry to tell you, but the moon isn't actually bigger. The moon has the same physical size the entire time in the sky, even on the horizon. What you are experiencing is a type of ocular illusion called the moon illusion. Google it!
Just like the moon illusion, there are other psychological traps we developers need to be aware of when writing dev tools. For example, color does not exist. There is no consensus what "red" actually looks like, because there's no way to compare our subjective experiences of what we actually see when the "red" wavelength hits our eyes.
In 2015 I received my Masters degree in Human Factors (UX), where I built a Kinect application to study motor learning for a kinesiology professor. I was shocked to discover the usability issues in my own project's design, considering I had studied UX for the past 3 years. Based on this feedback, I hypothesized that developer tools have usability issues because we eventually convince ourselves at the subconscious level our design is correct because it is the ideal way for us to test the tools. We think "this design is the ideal way to use my framework!" But in reality, this design is really the ideal way for us to test our own UI or code.