The Importance of a Good User Interface

Sure, everyone would like a good UI, but most developers simply have not had the training to implement a usable user interface. I’m not necessarily talking about something dazzling and good looking, no I’m talking about USABLE. Think user interfaces aren’t that important?

Last night on Twitter, @djuggler mentioned John Denver. My wife is a huge John Denver fan. Right after we got married, I took her to a John Denver concert. We got all dressed up, did the nice dinner then I surprised her with some great seats. We were on the front row, if you exclude the seats that were down in the orchestra pit. I was especially glad I spent the extra bucks as it turned out to be his last concert in Birmingham before he passed away.

@djuggler ‘s tweet made me curious what year he’d passed away. In reading the Wikipedia article I found an interesting link to an article on ASK TOG. It was titled “When Interfaces Kill: What Really Happened to John Denver”. I’ll let you read the article for the full details, but the short version is the fuel tank toggle switch was poorly designed, and in a location that forced the pilot to remove his hands from the controls. Doing so caused John Denver to lose control and, well, that was that.

I hope this brings to light how important a good UI can be. At the risk of this sounding like a lame lead in to a commercial, I will mention tonight’s BSDA meeting. Shannon Brooks-Hamilton is coming to speak to give us a User Experience Overview. From her extract:

“User Experience” is a person’s overall experience and satisfaction when using a product or service. This presentation will give an overview of the practices, methods, and outcomes of User Experience with an emphasis on tips for great interface designs. The benefits of User Experience include increased product usage, increased e-commerce sales, increased user productivity, decreased support costs, decreased training costs, and fanatical customer loyalty. Google, Apple, and IDEO are examples of companies that embrace User Experience.

We’ll be meeting at 6:30 pm on August 14th at the New Horizons Training Center in Homewood, hope you can make it!


One thought on “The Importance of a Good User Interface

  1. I couldn’t agree more… sometimes even managers overlook the importance of a good UI in favor of pure functionality. Not only can a good UI save time directly, but by relieving frustration and making the user feel at home, it can improve productivity and reduce errors.

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