The Design of Software (CLOSED)

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The Elephant in this Room

Design != Human Interface Design

A good design addresses of the -ilities (usability, scalability, maintainability, uh performance, security, shock and vibe, etc...)

The strong user interface slant of this article seems to put that design goal above all else. If this is intentional then you should justify it. But it's wrong.
Jeff W. Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
And why shouldn't it be above all else?

Unless you're righting an automated program that a user will never have to touch, the single most important thing is it's usability. If a user isn't comfortable using the program, they simply won't.

If it's easy to use for what they need it to, then they're very likely to pick it over another program that offers more / better scaling but is less usable.
Josh McFarlane Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
There is a great deal of discussion on usability and where it fits in with the customers.  When I started my programming career I thought that a program had to have a powerful, excellent, stupendous UI for customers to buy it.  I was wrong.  I have seen several programs that have lasted 10+ (I am thinking of one that is at 17 years and counting) that have horrible, horrible user interfaces. 

I think the usability becomes important when you are comparing two products that have the same or similar minimum functionality (as in, they provide the minimum required for the person buying them to use them for what they want).  At that point, the program with the better user interface wins out.  If you have a market space captive, or there is a huge cost of change for the customer or high barrier to entry for the market, then your UI just has to be workable after the user receives training.  This is especially true for business software that costs $50k+ and comes with training and consulting. 

If you want to sell to the common man, though, I think that your product has to do a lot better job with the user interface.  Something that is easy to learn, easy to use once you have learned it, and affordable will likely have good sales.
Josh Volz Send private email
Monday, January 30, 2006
It has to do with the distinction between "casual software" and "business software". Casual software is something you use on and off, once in a while kind of thing. It should be easy to use, as the user will probably give it 30 seconds before he gives up. "Business software" is something you use EVERY day, usually for long periods of time. There, is it more important that the S/W will be POWERFULL. Better powerfull and hard to navigate/use then easy to use but WEAK.
Dror Saddan Send private email
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I agree with Dror.  In our org., I've seen one department purchase a software package that was difficult to use and 'optional'.  The result...nobody used it.  Well, maybe one person. 

In my department, we wrote a complete business administration system.  The system we replaced had a high-learning-curve, non-graphical and downright ugly interface but people loved it because they had to use it every day and were used to it.  When we first launched our system, everybody grumbled and groaned because of all the changes but they were stuck learning it because they needed it every day.  Now, they seem to like it a lot. 

'Optional' vs. 'mandatory' use  really determines the importance of interface design.  Not only that, many times an administrator who may rarely use the system makes the purchasing decision and everybody else is stuck with it without having the opportunity to compare interfaces - sometimes it comes down to sales and marketing.  However, those of us who would 'do unto others' just try to design a friendly interface out of the goodness of our hearts.
Central Cal Girl Send private email
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I agree 'Optional' vs. 'mandatory' use makes a huge difference however in my experience companies purchase software to solve a particular busines problem and the person who makes the purchase decision is not the same person who has to use the software.  So you can slip really crappy stuff past the buyer as long as you hit his or her "hot" buttons in the selling stage. 

However if the person who is the buyer also has to use the stuff..then usability becomes a huge issue.  I recently watched a $100,000 sale go down the tubes because the decision maker did not like the number of screens they had to visit to create a Sales Order.
B2B Wanna Be Send private email
Sunday, February 19, 2006
And as an aside...
People who work for a living always hate software change. They get paid to do things each day.  The last thing they want to do is to have to learn how to do something in a new way.  Even when it is a better way and in the long run will save them time.
B2B Wanna Be Send private email
Sunday, February 19, 2006

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