The rise of usability

There is something happening within industries outside of the technology space that is a great thing for design.

There was a time where convincing a software development team that bringing on a designer in the early stages of the development process was a very difficult task. Now, we are starting to see the ratio between developers and designers on software teams small and large become closer to 1:1 (one can be optimistic).

The logic behind the increased number of designers, however, does not stem from the software engineers directly understanding the art of design. In fact, where would we be without “Engineer Art”? The logic behind an increased number of designers comes from the top. Upper management, business people, senior executives, SVPs, and EVPs, and PVPs. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t fit. The rise of usability is a product of the general masses.

Many applications were designed for specific products, mostly business or industry related. The advent of the personal computer changed this quite a bit, but there was an understanding that a computer is for work first, consumption later. Enter the smartphone. More directly, the iPhone. The 2007 release of the iPhone spawned a large number of smart-er devices and phones that would soon put a computer in almost everybody’s hand. This is the start of the rise of usability.

There may have been a moment when you realized your grandmother commented on the poor usability of an app. She may have not been using those terms specifically, but what we are seeing is that users in the non technology space are starting to develop a strong understanding of usability and the importance of User Experience Design.

The rise of usability means that more people are using software. More people are interfacing with mobile phones, tablets, and computers in general. Technology is coming into every industry in full force and the human-computer interactions are being scrutinized, reviewed, and inspected by each and every user. This need for good usability, a good experience, has become top business priorities for many companies that would otherwise not be very tech focused in the past and it is a very great thing for design.