The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

Usability and Fashion

Posted by kenhoward on February 28, 2009

guerilla_usabilityI’ve developed a renewed fascination with usability conventions lately. I’m working with a customer whose core systems are on the ole green screen, and many of the users are quite content with that. My gut tells me that they need to modernize, but when I see users zip through transactions at the speed of light, what benefit could they possibly get from a GUI?

When developing user interfaces with an eye toward usability, I need to remember that it’s not all about beauty.   For many software users, efficiency and speed are the most important criteria.  I look forward to the next generation of usability that decreases the emphasis on appearance and increases emphasis on usage.

It’s funny to look back at old photographs and mock clothing that we once thought was fashionable.   It’s interesting how we can see dramatic changes in fashion when we look back a decade at a time, but we hardly notice changes from year to year.    When looking back at old software, however, I don’t see many revolutionary changes in today’s interfaces from those developed a decade ago.    There are a few exceptions out there, but for the most part we don’t seem to be evolving.


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