Flicking through a blog the other day, I was impressed by the author’s insight, the breadth of material, his interest in the semantics, theory and practice of testing. I chuckled at the sense of humour and I adored the modesty and humility he displayed.

And then I noticed that of the seven images I could see on the blog’s front page three (1, 2, 3) were record sleeves.

I was distracted by this, my train of thought moving away from the content and onto the relevance of my observation and speculation about the author’s interests: is it significant that there are so many record sleeves here? Will I have a look at the archives to see what images were used there? Is this chap a record collector? Are these records personal favourites? Why is he using images on every post, anyway? What value do they add? What was this blog about, again?

And then I remembered that it was my blog and that I had started off scanning for typos.

The signal I was giving out, from an aggregation of discrete decisions taken over time, was not one that I had intended but was one that revealed (or at least gave an observer cause to suspect it revealed) something about me and my interests, priorities, decision-making.

In software development we’re constantly making discrete decisions – should we aim to put that feature in in this cycle? Can we get away without that widget? Will we have time to fix that bug and test it? Could we risk changing the format of this file given the benefits it would enable? Is it time to refresh the interface?  These will generally be taken with good intent for the issue at hand but they can still add up into something unintended that users notice, that takes them away from the task they’re trying to perform, that they will use to form an opinion about us and the way we operate. Be sure to step back and look for the patterns from time to time.

And then I wrote a new post. With an image that can’t be misinterpreted. Probably.
Image: http://flic.kr/p/ZRBo