Great Design Spoils Us and That’s A Good Thing

Great design along with great user feedback and iteration makes me intolerant of bad design, even when there is no alternative.

In the web app space, new entrants continue to appear, competing with each other and incumbents, each tweaking their strategy slightly. One thing that will separate each app is the quality of the user experience and user interface. Thus, users of these apps are increasingly spoiled. The best-in-class app emerges in a Darwinian competition. The web app space has to be the most fast-paced example of this paradigm, but it could be true of other products, services, or experiences who’s design can be constantly re-iterated.

I know I am spoiled. I have Google apps (search included) at my fingertips. I can use 37Signal apps to communicate complex ideas around my projects. I can communicate back and forth with web power users in an instant from almost any location without e-mail by using services like Twitter.

However, as I look at other apps I have no choice to use such as the web interface for my bank, government websites, or the CRM software at my last job, I am very intolerant of old, bad software. I expect that this software should not make me think. I only want to think about how to solve hard problems once, and then have have a software solve the problem when it comes up. In other words, I think software should do the repetitive mental heavy lifting.

When a great design ecosystem along with a great feedback channel to the designers and developers is available, we become even more spoiled. But I don’t think the spoilage is a bad thing. It creates an awareness for good design. It creates an awareness for the need for UI and UX designers. It creates awareness of the advantages of user feedback channels. It creates an awareness that rapidly releasing new code helps designers make better choices.

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3 Responses to Great Design Spoils Us and That’s A Good Thing

  1. Mason says:

    I think you’d enjoy this law of enterprise software usability my friend Ben wrote up a while back. He and I were both doing UI work at webMethods at the time:

    “The price customers pay for software and the level of usability they get with that software is inversely proportional.”

    He goes on to explain: http://www.benjaminbooth.com/tableorbooth/2005/09/starship_unusab.html

  2. Pingback: Usability Counts » Blog Archive » Great Design: It Spoils Us, And We Should Expect Better

  3. Naomi Niles says:

    I know how you feel. I’ve uninstalled ugly software many times, even if I find it useful. I just don’t feel motivated to use it if it’s ugly and hard to use.

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