Thursday, October 26, 2006

Are we going to take the tide?

The push toward user interface design in India ...

"This is a very important phase in the world of User Interface (UI) design.
More and more software product companies have begun to realize that they no longer have the luxury of designing just a functional differentiator and remaining ahead of their competitors, since almost all competitors today have similar products. This simple and plain rationale is now becoming a reason for companies to push for UI design. (Personally, I am surprised how little we learn from our environment since this reasoning had been valid for products like cars, washing machines, TVs and other products since a long time ago 'it just took such a long time for the software product guys to understand this from their hardware counterparts' better late than never though.)

While the above should mean good news for UI designers, there is a lot that UI designers need to figure out before they can take up the opportunity. The traditional waterfall model of 'sequential' user-centered design is a dead process. With faster release-to-market cycles and agile programming methods, the rather long and sequential design process needs to be re-modeled.

There are two ways to look at it:

Route 1: If you want to align the user-centered design process with the software process, then, it becomes necessary that you improvise on the user-centered process you work with. You might want to keep the user at the center of your mind (figuratively speaking) while designing, but you will probably not get time to keep the user right at the beginning of the process, since the engineering team will just not wait for the one month while you do this and then bring them your wireframes a weekend before the company wants to release the product to the market. Practicality calls you to be 'agile'enough to realize that you need to spend more time in using your scattered user-experiences from other assignments and start designing upfront while conducting your user studies in parallel to refine these iteratively. It's difficult (it might involve an 18-hour job while getting paid for just 8) and it requires very careful execution."    (Continued via HCI Vistas)    [Usability Resources]

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