How Important is Software?

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item How Important is Software?

  • I'm retired now, but I was essentially a developer from 1970 to 2015, with roles such as Project Manager, IT Director, IT Strategic Planner along the way. I don't think that we could do much for the users until we got PCs and MACs on desks.

    I think that it's essential that we pay a lot of attention to how the users work. We designed the system (to specifications from user management) and we know how it's supposed to be used. We tend to be logical folk and we design our systems to be used in logical ways. But the users don't necessarily think the way we do. It doesn't matter how much time we spend planning and designing with the users, we won't get it right with version 1.0. It's only when the users have used the software for a while that they'll start to ask questions and make suggestions about how things could be improved for the way it's actually used. Don't take this as criticism of your software. You can become a local hero by being receptive and participating in making it better.

     

  • From the Article:


    "I urge developers to have others look at what they present on the screen, and spend time learning from users, both experienced and novice. "

    I've found that it's usually not the Developers that need to do this.  It's usually the people that are creating the specifications for what the Developers need to write that should pay attention, especially to "Human Factors".  I've totally given up on any common sense showing up there.

    And, newsflash... not everyone is looking at sites (especially technical sites) from a bloody smart phone. 🙁

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • I bought a Corsair mechanical keyboard for the same reasons.  Never again.  The keyboard is fine, the software is nigh unusable.  This is not hyperbole.  It is, hands down, the worst piece of software I've ever tried to use.  And I do say "try", because after hours of fiddling with it, I never got it working the way I wanted.  And what I wanted was simple -- the lights on the keys should just stay on.  No patterns, no fades, just...on.  All the keys, all the time.  How hard could it be?

    I'd be happy to RTFM, but Corsair has decided that no FM is warranted, or desired by their customers.  Or in this case, ex-customer.

    I agree that it seems like hardware manufacturers supply the worst software.  Drivers that simply don't work.  Bluetooth devices where the operating systems has no trouble pairing, but the custom software can't seem to find the device (looking at you, JBL...grrrr), and on and on.

    I wonder how frequently hardware manufacturers develop software in-house vs just subbing it out.  My guess is that the software is mostly produced by third parties, but I'm not in that sector, so I can't say for sure.  I also wonder why these manufacturers seem not to care about alienating customers this way.

  • This topic is so important, Steve. UI/UX is one of my favorite topics. I'm a developer, so I don't pretend to be great at UI/UX, but I do have some skills at UI/UX, having sat in several UI/UX for developers' presentations where I picked up some great tips and approaches. At my previous job, my coworker was good at UI/UX design. We wrote a Windows app, which was beautiful. Our users used them for several years.

    However, in my current job I've been appalled at the miserable UI/UX we put out. For 6 years we've been trying, unsuccessfully, to replace old MS Access apps or Excel spreadsheets with Windows apps based upon a UI/UX pattern that I've never seen used anywhere which no one likes. We've started 8 applications based upon this UI/UX design. Only one app is still in use today, and that will be replaced next year. The guy who champions this design used it in a previous job he worked it. Any app based upon his design would result in users having dozens of windows open all over their PC desktops. Every action causes another window to open. And since each window has its own navigation through the database, then it's possible for the user to be lost as to what record they're on, how the record they're on in one window relates to any of the other windows, etc. The UI/UX design requires all apps to adhere to the same design, ignoring the fitness of that UI/UX to the process it's trying to help the user as they work with the data. The reason for this is clear, after 6 years. The guy who demands we develop apps based on this approach wants to maximize developer productivity. Ideally, all the developer must do is take any window and code from one app, copy it into another app, then change the variable names and connection strings, to get it going in the second app. This approach doesn't care what the user wants. I feel like we're driving this UI/UX down the users' throats with a 10 lb. maul. This leads to another suggestion, which hasn't been mentioned, when an app isn't adopted here no one in my current job ever asks the users why they didn't adopt it. What could have been better, etc. This is true of every app developed regardless of technology used. It's just, "AppA isn't being used. OK, start developing AppB".

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Michael Taubman wrote:

    I bought a Corsair mechanical keyboard for the same reasons.  Never again.  The keyboard is fine, the software is nigh unusable.  This is not hyperbole.  It is, hands down, the worst piece of software I've ever tried to use.  And I do say "try", because after hours of fiddling with it, I never got it working the way I wanted.  And what I wanted was simple -- the lights on the keys should just stay on.  No patterns, no fades, just...on.  All the keys, all the time.  How hard could it be?

    I'd be happy to RTFM, but Corsair has decided that no FM is warranted, or desired by their customers.  Or in this case, ex-customer.

    I agree that it seems like hardware manufacturers supply the worst software.  Drivers that simply don't work.  Bluetooth devices where the operating systems has no trouble pairing, but the custom software can't seem to find the device (looking at you, JBL...grrrr), and on and on.

    I wonder how frequently hardware manufacturers develop software in-house vs just subbing it out.  My guess is that the software is mostly produced by third parties, but I'm not in that sector, so I can't say for sure.  I also wonder why these manufacturers seem not to care about alienating customers this way.

    I also remember ('80's and '90's) that certain hardware vendors, that provided routers , switches, and modems, also shipped their software on floppies that came complete with a copy of the "Michelangelo Birthday Virus".  That was a real joy because that crap was in the boot sector of the floppy.  Great care had to be taken to be able to override that to see if the floppy was infected or not.

    Of course, especially lately, that's not just limited to hardware.  You've just gotta love the irony of virus protection/system analysis/monitoring comes complete with Trojan Horses.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • It's apparent that a lot of UI/UX developers have never heard of Ben Shneiderman's "Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design."  If everyone kept those rules in their minds when developing, things would be a lot easier for everyone.

  • I've been a coder since the 70's and a software engineer since the 90's. BS in Com Sci, MS in Software Engineering. Of the 2 BS programs I experienced, neither ever even mentioned UI (as it was called back then), nor UE or UX as it's called this week. In my MS program, we had 1 excellent course in UE. In short, schools are hardly paying any attention to the topic. Ancient coders like myself learned to interview end users (whenever allowed, see below) to design software to meet their needs (i.e. UI/UE/UX), leading to my motto of "more, better, faster".

    (The following is entirely my opinion, of course...)

    Corporate-wise, management doesn't want quality software; they want software quickly. The whole industry has gone that way, too. Look how Agile has morphed into "more, faster", arguably ignoring the "better" part. I'm speaking in general, of course, as there are scores of Agile folks dedicated to quality software. I've worked at many companies, though, from tiny startups to the mega corps; and, since the late 90's, the trend has steadily moved to more features, faster at the expense of security, reliability, and usability. (At least as companies are getting hacked at accelerating rates, a few companies are reacquiring a focus on security, sometimes even reliability.)

    Of the many apps I directly support, a few were designed by myself, and the userbase still remarks about how the software's so trouble-free and working just as they need. Others which my team's inherited are horrible messes, some being the epitome of how to build software requiring permanent fulltime staff to keep it running; and, of course, most are incredibly difficult to use, even for my own devs.

    IMHO, too many people dove head-first into the Agile+DevOps waters w/o first looking for submerged rocks, and it's still continuing at an increasing pace. Don't get me wrong, I worship automation and real-time processing. (Think: ATM machines.) Trouble is, I think most of the people like myself are about to retire (or already have). Kids coming out of school today seem to focus more on "eye candy" and not functionality, cool-looking features which often aren't very usable. Heck, most kids nowadays haven't the foggiest idea of "above the fold" means, let alone why Search and Help need to be at the upper-right, or Contact Us needs to be at the bottom center.

    It'd be an entirely different world if coders started thinking again of "function first, looks last." (That doesn't give anyone carte blanche to ignore looks, mind you...)

    Lastly, corporate management needs to focus only on security, reliability, performance, and usability (in that order). All are important, though, like a chair vs. a 3-legged stool. (Kick a leg out from a stool and you bust your coccyx, but a chair merely wobbles and remains mostly functional.)

    If we built aircraft and spacecraft like companies now build mobile apps, we'd be back to riding horses by the end of the year. (Don't even get me going on how nobody knows how to design mobile apps, yet those same developers know at least 100 open source libraries to build them; that says something about both app devs and the geniuses building those libraries.)

    Thanks for listening to this ancient coder. I've still high hopes that the whole system will eventually reach critical mass, then somebody hits CTL+ALT+DEL.  (Oh wait, now all that does is allow the 28th method to access Task Manager, gee wiz.)

  • I've just been on a website trying to book a return flight from Manchester to Belgrade.

    The problem is that someone set the outbound and return calendars so if you update one you update the other.  Fly out 7th, you are clearly returning on the 7th.  Want to come back on the 10th, clearly you set off on the 10th.

    OK, that's bad so I click the search button only to get an error saying that start departure and return times can't be the same.

    • Nowhere was I allowed to choose any form of time
    • There is no way to override this

    I resorted to trying a one way ticket.  Got a flight listed with a change in Munich.  Nowhere did it reveal the departure or arrival times.

    I tried this in another browser just to make sure it wasn't something in Safari, but no, it happens in Chrome too.

    I don't feel like being polite about this.  The testing done on this is clearly the square root of sod all.  This isn't minor glitch territory, this is foundation functionality.  If I can't trust them to do this right can I trust them with my credit card details and personal information?

    Over the years I have seen a dramatic improvement in test tooling and capability.  Yet somehow stuff like this feels like it is getting more prevalent.  IT salaries are relatively high yet it is intensely irritating for such casualness to be visible when it comes to quality.

     

     

  • Lol, I book flights constantly, so a different perspective. Often I want a 4 day or 7 day trip, so moving one date should move the other. That's a handy feature.

    However, it ought to be over-rideable.

    I love my Tesla, and the software changes can be cool, but sometimes I think they forget that many things can be customizable for different people as we see the world differently.

    The new web, which is really data-driven, requires that software not just serve all people, but serve them all more uniquely. While Windows is pizza for a billion people, we ought to remember that a billion different options are possible in the digital world.

  • David, I feel for your predicament. I have a similar problem, but without the consequences you're experiencing with trying to schedule flights.

    Mine experiences is with an annoying popup from HP where they badger me to purchase an extended warranty from HP. I bought a HP desktop PC last year. Frequently I get this popup asking me to purchase an extended warranty from HP. I've already purchased an extended warranty on my new PC elsewhere, so I don't need to purchase one from HP. There's a link in their popup that reads, "No thanks, I'm not interested". I have clicked that link every time. You would think that a link labeled "No thanks, I'm not interested", would get back to HP, so they would leave me alone. At least, that's how I think. Guess I must be wrong, because HP's approach has been to continue to harass me with popups asking me to purchase their extended warranty. I've saved a screen snippet of a dozen of these harassing popups. And I haven't saved them all! I estimate that I've gotten 20 popups in less than a year, asking me to purchase HP's extended warranty. I've gone to their website to complain. More than once. Absolutely NO result. I've gone to Twitter to complain. They've engaged me in DMs, which have resulted in nothing. Every time some HP person responses, asking me to go over it again, etc. It's turned into a war of attrition. It's very clear to me that HP couldn't care less about their customers. All they want is my money. I get the feeling that they want my money even after I'm dead.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • David, I feel for your predicament. I have a similar problem, but without the consequences you're experiencing with trying to schedule flights.

    My experiences are with an annoying popup from HP where they badger me to purchase an extended warranty from HP. I bought a HP desktop PC last year. Frequently I get this popup asking me to purchase an extended warranty. I've already purchased an extended warranty on my new PC elsewhere, so I don't need to purchase one from HP. There's a link in their popup that reads, "No thanks, I'm not interested". I have clicked that link every time. You would think that a link labeled "No thanks, I'm not interested", would get back to HP, so they would leave me alone. At least, that's how I think. Guess I must be wrong, because HP's approach has been to continue to harass me with popups asking me to purchase their extended warranty. I've saved a screen snippet of a dozen of these harassing popups. And I haven't saved them all! I estimate that I've gotten 20 popups in less than a year, asking me to purchase HP's extended warranty. I've gone to their website to complain. More than once. Absolutely NO result. I've gone to Twitter to complain. They've engaged me in DMs, which have resulted in nothing. Every time a different HP person responds, asking me to go over it again, etc. It's turned into a war of attrition. It's very clear to me that HP couldn't care less about their customers. All they want is my money. I get the feeling that they want my money even after I'm dead.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • This was removed by the editor as SPAM

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Login to reply