For who do we design our software solutions?

Recently I compared my iPhone with the HTC Touch and concluded that the User Experience of the iPhone is in another league. It's Microsoft versus Apple in creating a User Experience, and for those that use Windows Vista, just have a look at what Mac OS 10.5 "Leopard." has to offer from next Friday. This made me think, why come excellent User Experiences with Apple naturally and is it very difficult for Microsoft? Since I work in the business software industry an answer is important, because it might help to deliver better products. It took some time, but I might have found the answer.

The title of this post already gives it away, who do we design the software for? Is it the end user that is using the software on a day to day basis or is it for the decision maker that decides to buy the software from you? For consumer goods, most Apple products, both are usually the same. Apple wants you to dribble over their latest products in the Apple shop and make and instant decision. In business software the process is different and the product development is often driven based on features requested from customers and prospects. Unfortunately these features are not requested by the actual end users, but by managers, control freaks or other decision makes. This is for me the most obvious explanation why business software is feature overloaded and difficult to use. It's just not build for giving an excellent user Experience. It's build to meet to tick the checkboxes during a sales process.

The result of this process is a happy sales person because the deal is done, a happy decision maker because he covered his ass with all the checkboxes ticked and a frustrated end user that is forced to use a solution that is not designed to give an excellent experience. We might think, it doesn't matter... but actually it does.. up until recently reference customers where represented by the above mentioned decision makers, but today with the emerge of social computing the word of mouth takes a different dimension. The actual end user has a voice, and with so many of them...even a very strong voice...

It's time to design business solution for the end user... design for maximum happiness... it will pay off over time...



You're completly right, but there is another factor. For a requirement there are often several (technical) solutions with different costs. Going for the cheapest solution can compromise the usability or user experience. In other words: the best user experience often cost more development time. And then it comes to where the priorities are set: the best user experience possible or the easiest technical way.

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