An interesting theme has emerged in my conversations this week: that an impact of new forms of computing devices, particularly with touch screens, is that people’s fear of exploring in software applications seems to be diminishing.
In the world of WIMP, and desktop-based computing, the majority of people seem fearful of using devices. Many have had it drummed into them that doing the wrong thing in a piece of software will lead to catastrophe But on a touch screen smart device people seem less afraid of the implications of trying to find out what a piece of software can do. We are less afraid to explore.
There are possibly a stack of reasons for this: more natural ways we interact with a smart device without the intermediation of mice and keyboards; far less complex applications; and less process-centric and more people-centric design of apps in the newer world.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with a couple of guys from a software company that supplies the insurance trade on Wednesday. We were talking about how they might ‘appify’ their products, and one of their conclusions was that they maybe had to look to produce dozens of apps, each focused down on limited sets of functionality relevant to a particular subset of the people who would use their products.
This has big implications for the way in which such companies might design their services: much of the traditional desktop software world is based on a model of including everything and then users find their own paths to the functionality they need; apps based on specific personae start with providing the bare minimum.
If an underlying system architecture has been well designed (some have, many haven’t) then becomes a manageable but complex design issue; if it hasn’t there are really big questions raised for plotting a path into this new world. Unpacking the “with the kitchen sink” model of applications of old into the new world of smart devices is going to provide some fascinating design and architectural challenges, particularly for established software companies who will otherwise face strong challenge from young upstarts who design from the start for the contemporary world of user experience.