James Governor kicks off a periodic debate about UIs - “ Portal reskinning is a growing business – both Deloitte and Accenture, for example, have built practices dedicated to using Adobe technology to make existing enterprise applications and their portal front ends less painful for users.”
Being Labor Day, I think we should be discussing this in a broader context of labor productivity. Frankly, I am disappointed the industry still talks in terms of “ugliness” or “prettiness” rather than effectiveness.
I wrote in October of 2007 :
“As they invest millions improving their UI this time, hope they consider...
...that messaging between machines, sensors, devices have for the last couple of decades outstripped human originated messaging traffic. Optimizing non-human interfaces is even more important than newer UIs
...that the "universal UI" is a holy grail. Traders, salesfolks, shop floor employees, the UPS delivery employees, are not homogeneous and will never use a single UI
...that amazon.com, eBay and Google have shown in the last few years that the best user interface is the one which does not require elaborate documentation - and does not generate tons of calls to some help desk
...that we are already seeing a huge proliferation in mobile user interfaces. We are going to be swimming in way too many UIs in coming years
...that the average CFO does not want a "prettier" user interface, but wants more productive accountants that can help compress the monthly closing cycle and help the company show in top quartile of best practice process benchmarks. That the average VP of Logistics is looking for tons of customer, shipment and other data - wants lots of reliable, bulk data, and in fact is suspicious of user touched data. “
and this as a follow up:
“Let's face it most enterprise UI "progress" is incremental and involves cute motifs, crisper edges -like the Vista Aero Interface. And a litany of gaffes.
Capturing data accurately, once at source has long being a design principle in automating business processes. Personally, I get a lot more excited when I see a vendor showing me scanners, bar code guns, sensors etc which capture data automatically. Even better a vendor with cajones to say - you know that entry process in past release which took up 3 screens - gone!
Or put a voice interface on SAP. Then instead of prettiness, we can argue about squeakiness –)”
It is jarring to me that innovation in next-gen user interfaces which incorporate voice, haptics and other non-graphic UIs appears to be coming more from the auto industry rather than the software industry.