Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@ThingsExpo: Article

The User Interface Revolution Will Be Televised

Software application development teams must now balance UX-related usability along with a core devotion to true functionality

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services

We all want usability, that's a given right? We exist in an enterprise world, but we want to behave as naturally as possible with all of the technologies and devices that we come into contact with every day.

The co-called ‘consumerization of information technology' suggests that we as users have adopted powerful devices for our home and personal use. These devices will in many respects out-perform those devices that we might be using or have used in the workplace.

The corollary or upshot of this reality is that workers themselves start to perform their work-related tasks more effectively if they are given a user interface that feels familiar. When we say familiar, let us be more specific - we are talking about making enterprise application user interfaces more attuned to those we might have found in consumer-style applications.

This (somewhat nauseatingly) is often termed part of the User eXperience (UX) factor that has become so crucial in all aspects of software application development and systems management as a whole.

What this means is that software application development teams must now balance UX-related usability along with a core devotion to true functionality. It also means they will have to balance the ROI needed to pull off the UX goals with the still-essential security (and compliance and governance etc.) requirements set by the IT department as they strive to create a user experience that employees will love.

The Hardest Chasm to Cross
One of the hardest bridges to cross here is the fact that the UX for most enterprise applications is formulated during the age when desktops ruled. This is of course no longer the case and we naturally talk about mobile-first as the defining factor, which must drive all application creation at every level.

While some of this discussion edges on the arguably rather fluffy borders of user experience design consultancy, there is a reality to embrace here and that is the fact that the user now becomes a much more dynamic force in terms of the way we build software applications. If that almost sounds stupid, then it should - and perhaps we should have been this responsive to users' needs years ago.

We know that optimal application design can help retain users, improve user productivity and lower customer service costs.

This truth means that we have to use another word that has been sullied by over-use in terms of PR spin and hackneyed repetition: intuitive.

Intuitive user interface design means being able to use an application well, of course, but what does it really mean?

Jared M Spool wrote a brilliant piece almost a decade ago now where here said, "To those who police the English language, interfaces can't be intuitive, since they are the behavior side of programs and programs can't intuit anything. When someone is asking for an intuitive interface, what they are really asking for is an interface that they, themselves, can intuit easily. They are really saying, ‘I want something I find intuitive' [to use]."

How to Make a Great GUI
The secret to making a great user interface great is complex. There are basic points to mention though: keep it mobile first, keep it consistent (so that users do the ‘same sort' of action on all pages of the GUI), keep it fallible (users make a lot of mistakes, accommodate for that factor), keep it conventional (there are many de facto standards that we are all used to such as a trash can for a delete action), keep it simple and ... perhaps most of all... keep it functional and personalized.

If we get all these elements right, well, even if we get most of these elements right or at least make sure that we have been thinking about them then there is every chance that our GUIs will shine and that this particular revolution will be televised.

It might end up being televised on a tablet or smartphone first, but the GUI revolution will be televised.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


CloudEXPO Stories
Nutanix has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO New York, which will take place November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualization and networking into a resilient, software-defined solution with rich machine intelligence.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital transformation without a complete overhaul of their existing infrastructure - serving as a sort of "missing link" for transition to cloud utilization.
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve full cloud literacy in the enterprise world.
Wasabi is the hot cloud storage company delivering low-cost, fast, and reliable cloud storage. Wasabi is 80% cheaper and 6x faster than Amazon S3, with 100% data immutability protection and no data egress fees. Created by Carbonite co-founders and cloud storage pioneers David Friend and Jeff Flowers, Wasabi is on a mission to commoditize the storage industry. Wasabi is a privately held company based in Boston, MA. Follow and connect with Wasabi on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Wasabi blog.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to advisory roles at startups. He has worked extensively on monetization, SAAS, IoT, ecosystems, partnerships and accelerating growth in new business initiatives.