Design software that respects your user.
Computers have won.
Computers are everywhere in our lives. We use them for everything, and for people in developed countries the world is becoming just a series of paths between screens. Go to work, work on the computer, get on the bus, play with a phone, get home and play games, watch TV, browse the web.
In the past designers of software and computers worked tirelessly to prove the value of computers. People scoffed at the idea of a personal computer, or the Internet, but eventually computers won. Computers won so soundly that a smart phone is arguably an extension of a person. Are we missing a piece of ourselves if we leave our phone home? Certainly our instincts change and there is a yearning desire to get back to our phone. The real world is now augmented with a digital web of data that spans distances and binds people, places, and entities together in a close knit bundle. The digital world is compressesed, small, and traversible.
And yet when designers of new software and technology create software they furiously try to prove the value of what they’re designing. On an individual scale they are fighting for their survival in a noisy landscape. Zoom out and this mass of noise is consuming reality.
Technology is not a bad thing. It is in fact a good thing. It makes our lives easier and more enjoyable. But when the brilliant and clever minds of the world are all trying to prove their worth by captivating people with their designs and technology, people suffer.
Those who design and create modern technology are shepards of the lives of millions. They are effectively reaching their hand into the lives of their users and guiding them with their expertise. It is exceptionally important for those in this position of power to understand the magnitude of their power.
If someone struggles with an app, gets lost due to an error in directions, sighs as their program crashes, then their life is made ever so slightly worse. Presently software is created rapidly and carelessly, vying for attention quickly and immediatly. At first people were delighted with the multitude of ideas and options, but increasingly people don’t care.
As software and technology evolves and matures the solutions that most respect a user’s life and time will slowly rise to the top. Those that bombard users with notifications, updates, and use addictive mechanisms will reap the short term rewards, but over time they will fade away as software built on respect and quality takes over. Software is now a part of life, not just work or entertainment, and life is too precious to be treated carelessly.
Designers and creators will begin to think about their creations not just in the context of how the user interacts with features, but also how that creation interacts with the greater context of the user’s life.
Previously software design was all about solving a user’s problem; now we must extend our vision and understand how our solutions impact our users’ lives as a whole.