User Interface Design of Digital Technology

Personal exposure and experience with using any technology is a definite asset; however, it is not by any means a prerequisite in the business environment. There are many technologies that we use on a daily basis without understanding how to create the technology. Good examples are our automobiles, televisions, and digital video recorders.

The crux of the concern most folk share is how can we use computer technology without having personal experience with the system’s construction and design. The distinction between the household appliances that I mentioned and our computers is that the appliances have a well-developed user interface, while our Microsoft Windows computers, because of a profoundly difficult user interface, put the responsibility for understanding the system upon the user, rather than allowing the user to seamlessly interact with the system, as the Apple products do.

I do not own an Apple computer; however, I see a significant difference in the facility of managing my podcasts since I changed from my Sandisk Sansa digital audio player and Juice podcasting software to an iPod Nano digital audio player and iTunes software. I was able to pick up the iPod and install the iTunes software without reading any manuals: transferring my podcast subscription list from Juice, and listening without any emotional consternation.

E-business majors who are not well practiced in the self-learning process of acquiring new software skills are often challenged by the act of creating a well-designed e-business Web site. One of the questions that I address in my latest book, Digitalis Americana, sections of which you may read on my personal blog, SaysDave, explores why it is still so difficult to create Web sites. Google has made the acts of creating documents, spreadsheets, and blogs, as well as instant messaging and VOIP conversing simple. Just recently, Google began offering a Web page creation tool; however, it is as limited in its capabilities as all of the other Web-based Web page creation tools. If the Internet, and by extension the World Wide Web, is to be the preferred communication medium for business, we must have a user interface that makes sense to novice Web page creators. Until products that meet this need are available, I expect that the majority of folk will find Web publishing, just as they do using Microsoft Windows, a daunting experience.

I found Alan Cooper’s book, The Inmates Are Running The Asylum, particularly elucidating to understanding this conundrum. I suggest that you read Cooper’s book.


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