Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why does enterprise software stink?

Khoi Vinh, designer director for NYTimes.com, asks an important question about why enterprise software is so hard to use. Newsroom production systems aren't his only target -- payroll and HR systems get their share of blame.

In part, he asks:
"What is it about the world of enterprise software that routinely produces such inelegant user experiences? Presumably, IT managers are enthusiasts of technology and the Internet as much as designers, if not more so. It’s understandable that they may fail to explicitly grasp the design principles that inform good interfaces, but surely that same exposure should make them aware that the software they’re buying and rolling out is not as easy to use, right?"

For the full article and comments from design heavyweights, go to Subtraction.com

I know a fine once-upon-a-time designer who is now a big-time IT manager. Is it hard to remember principles of design when dealing with vendors and budgets? Or are there no simpler, secure choices? What can we do to make it better?

Real-world illustration:
Adrian Holovaty, database wizard, is using his Knight Foundation grant to launch cool new things with a team of two database people, one people person and one amazing "interaction" designer, Wilson Miner. Some folks talk about Holovaty's work without recognizing Miner's contributions. They shouldn't.

1 comment:

-30- said...

Oooh, ooh, I've heard this before... Why it’s so hard to get print stories online.

I think that at some point in the enterprise IT worlds you become a slave to fear. Any change you make, any knob you tweak could cause dire consequences. The bigger the system, the bigger the risk.

Add to this a larger number of users so that the design process becomes design by consensus and you're almost there.

The coup-de-grace is the "must-have" feature that is so important that it's randomly thrown in the mix as soon as humanly possible... and then never used BUT DON'T REMOVE IT BECAUSE WE NEED IT!!!

Add a few more of those "must-have" and your Frankensoftware is about done.

The solution, of course, is IT leadership. Masters of their art who can dictate what is important and what isn't... that's acceptable, right? ;)