19 May 2006

The importance of user-interfaces

All through my computer-infused life I've struggled with user-interfaces, and I'm pretty darn sure I'm not the only one.

The funny part about talking about the importance of a good user-interface is that we all know the importance of a good user-interface, yet when it comes down to it, it is the part of our systems that gets the least priority! From start to finish we talk about business requirements, functional prototypes and user acceptance testing (the "user" here not being an end-user, but usually the owner of the project). Rarely, if money is left over or we've got too much time on our hands, things like information architecture, usability testing, persona pathways, participation and interaction design are scarcely interspersed, usually by the wrong people, in a haphazard way. Why is that?

I'm a technologist and a geek; I've been doing technical and functional stuff all my life, yet I'd fight you to the death to do user-centred design, usability testing in iterative lumps and be a bit creative about the information architecture before you try to nail it down in a strict taxonomy!

Ease up, people! We humans have a great sense of order in things; we classify, sort and think about their placement. On the other hand, we are also forgiving fuzzy creatures. Why are we mostly developing systems that adhore to the first group while ignoring the second at the same time? Because it is that crazy combination of the two that makes us humans work the way we work! In other words, why are we creating systems that work against human-nature?

I'm annoyingly baffled, in an unsurprised way.


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