Today, when browsing through my google reader feed, I saw this comic:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/shopping_cart

This really reminded me on the basis of why PEN21 was developed. The consumer oriented world have come to their senses that the UI to any application can either empower or cripple the people using it. Sometimes as developers, we really have to think of people using the systems we design as “Humans”, not just a mere “User” in a user case diagram.

Sadly this is not the case in the enterprise world. Companies and governments are still thinking of IT systems as data storage and processing units, not so much as things that we interact with. Top piority in any system design will of course be data integrity and availability. But at the very same time, we cannot forget that if no one likes the interface, its going to have adoption issues and bring down morale of the people interacting with it.

When I was at a hospital in Yishun the other day, I really pitied the doctor using the system in place. It was a mashup of various applications with inconsistent UI design. It was an application filled with text boxes and text boxes with no subtle hints to guide the user on the steps required to use it. The system also couldn’t foster communciation with the other clinics in the hospital. My referral letter had to be hand written, instead of virtually stored on tagged for my next visit. This is the huge disarray our health information is in.

When I spoke to the guys dealing with the EHR project the other time during my FYP, I got the feeling that the project was approached with creating a huge database, but not on creating something where healthcare professionals would like to use, cherish and allow them give better care to their patients. It was not something where the aim was to create a unified interface where doctors wherever they are deployed can understand and use. It wasn’t something that was designed to withstand a crisis where there is a sudden in flood of emergency cases.

Hopefully, one day the big boys in town will realize the inherent defect in the systems they designed. Some companies have realized this, but many have not as evident in our daily life. The problem here is not that we do not have talented programmers and designers, but more of having people understand the benefit of dedicating time and resources towards building a cohesive interface which people love to use.

There is a certain product that I market, that is very innovative, but does not meet my benchmark when it comes to UI. It has many functionalities no doubt, but it was too complicated for mere humans to use. It is good though that this Singapore company is bringing about change after much feedback,

There are many products I have come across that have innovated and inspired me that the future holds many great possibilities. That includes the iPhone and iPad of course, but beyond that there are many others. One of them is n-trig’s dual touch/tablet technology. The microsoft surface. The android OS. The soundcraft VI6 sound mixing console(One of the best mixer interface I have experienced). The Versonic mixing console(though I felt that the technology it was based on is a bad choice).

What is hardware without software? These very devices cited above would have been crippled if heart wasn’t taken to ensure that the UI was well built and loved by many.