Monday, January 28, 2008

Next Software Frontier: Usability, Software Testing, and Virtualization

What is the next big thing? The New Year is a good time to re-ask this question. In my mind, the Software Frontier 2008 is crossing the points of Usability, Software Testing, and Virtualization.

Why so? Today I cover Usability.
The driving factor #1: computers are fully adopted by the late majority of general public. Your mom and grand mom have computers now. Unlike the early kids, they don’t play Lego games with hardware, OS and software. They expect it to just work. How naïve! Designers haven’t yet figured doors, water faucets and light switches [1]. Now we are trying to build frustration-free software. Here comes a driving factor #2: against the odds, some companies have figured how to do it. They’ve built the software that “just works”. They made it emotionally appealing. Your mom and grand mom love it. The critical mass of good software raises the bar of expected quality and usability [2].

If your software is not there yet, you better catch up. Say you are Micro$oft, and your Vista release didn’t hit the mark: dude this year it will cost you substantial business. You are enterprise application with Motif-like interface from 80s, and customers had been still buying for the business value. Not for long!

So, focus on usability, adapt the techniques and learn to build software that “just works”, and sexy to fall in love with it.

I will follow up with Software Testing and Virtualization with the next posts.

1)Donald’s Norman “Design of Everyday Things”, a deep and fascinating reading on the design for usability, entertains a reader with hilarious examples of poor design of doors, water fascets, light switches and more.

2) The bar on visual design and usability rased even in the enterprise market, which used to be less sensitive to it. Well, users are all the same people who carry their opinions from home to work and back.

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