Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Let's NOT get physical

While working with a couple of source control software packages over the last few months, I have been frustrated by what I saw as a lack of usability with the UIs. What I thought should have been intuitive took too many steps or was not immediately or readily accessable. It finally struck me today, they that they are based upon the old physical view of the control process. Their software was nothing more than an electronic representation of the physical process that they replaced. The reason that had an impact on me is that if you brought in someone not familar with development to 'flowchart' a process, that is what they would do. They would lay the steps and flow down from their physical point of view of how the steps were sequenced. However, from a software usability point of view, that is not the best process. Things in software work better from the point of view of using the software to accomplish a business process. Software allows us to grow beyond the physical and formulate our workflow in such a way as to be better for our needs rather than being stuck with the limits of physicality.

When you're designing your systems, understand what you're trying to accomplish, not just the steps the user goes through. Then design your system to better help the user do their business, not just their tasks. When you're done you'll have a much better system and a much happier user. What the user wouldn't know is that you threw in a little BPR (Business Process Re-engineering) along the way.


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