Curious George, User Interface Design, and Enterprise Software

My boys have fallen in love with Curious George in both books and cartoons, and last night I watched Curious George’s Rocket Ride with them. In this episode, George ends up going to space because a mission requires buttons in the rocket to be pressed on four separate keypads at the same time — requiring an astronaut with four hands.

Now, there are plenty of things Curious George encounters that would never happen in real life, but bad user interface design is not one of them. Take this unfortunate example. And, well, the vast majority of enterprise software, which for the most part doesn’t kill, but wastes incredible amounts of time and money in lost productivity, decreased morale, and unnecessary training development. Mostly, buyers seem to put up with it because they don’t understand those costs or don’t feel like they have better options.

That thought always gets me down, so I re-read this article written by Marcia Conner at the beginning of this year. I love her parting words:

Start now. Pressure your vendors to do better. Don’t settle. Run simple usability testing with eight new hires. If you must, have a transition plan.

Be courageous and doggedly determined to create a healthy year.