Friday, July 30, 2010

The UI - it's never standardized - GUI nightmares

How many User Interfaces did you use today? On the desktop, a UI for each application, maybe 3, 4, 5 or maybe 10 or more? What about your phone or PDA, your oven or your toaster? Your own car, your rental car? Your banks ATM, another banks ATM? Brought a train ticket, a top-up, a pay as you go? What about your TV remote? Do you have more than 1? I bet you do :) - So why are the UI's of even similar devices so different?

I've personally been involved in UI's in some guise in the enterprise for the last 30 years and I wanted to share some thoughts and ramblings with you. I've looked especially over these last 4 weeks, at 100's of applications from just about every vendor on the planet!

In the Enterprise, the UI is the entry point to the business applications for every employee and so should all be super consistent and allow the user to be super efficient. Truth is - the exact opposite is true. The only thing each of these UI's have in common, is that most have little in common with each other. They are frequently slow or hard to use. Even apps from the same vendor, a few years apart can have an entirely alien UI to the first version of the app. The training required today for all the different applications and tasks users have to undergo just to learn basic stuff, is still unbelievable. If the user wants a change to the UI, they are told NO or come back in 12 months! We had this problem 30 years ago didn't we? Do I press F8 or page up. Where's the home key. Why doesn't ESCape go back. Why are some fields red, yellow or green...  Where did the print go... Why do I lose my data if I switch off the "screen".. Why is the data on this tab... Why do I have 3 screens with different addresses... Why doesn't ALT-C always work... Right click, Whats the password again..

You get the picture. What I see every single day are users, using computers in a manual fashion (pressing lots of keys, remembering what they were taught, rekeying data, writing down passwords, tabbing, making mistakes etc.,) Is it the users fault? No. It's the UI's fault. It's a computer so why can't it automate some or all of these "manual" steps in 2010. The desktop PC has all the information to automate much of the task but there's no connection of apps at the UI so you train a user to do it manually. How very not 2010 slick!

The problem arises from the fact that even though we are moving to more web applications, each developer builds their web application differently (Adobe, Java, HTML 5, JScript, ActiveX, Silverlight, Custom). Good developers rarely are good at doing the UI and in fact most hate having to do a UI. So there you have it, each UI ends up being different within the web and outside the web (Mainframe Green Screen, Java, Fat Client) and the user ends up doing all their tasks - manually.

So what if, all of the UI's out there could be enhanced instantly with an open API that would enable them to be bridged to make them work together as one. Automating the millions of applications and billions of daily user tasks would become a breeze, wouldn't it.

That's what OpenSpan has spent the last 5 years doing. Using advanced hooking and injection technology (UI DNA recognition system) to sit inside all of these millions of UI's and open them up for almost instant automation. Any user process or task can be automated. This is the new breed of Business Process Improvement (BPI) technology that sits under the OpenSpans User Process Management umbrella. This is game changing. Better yet, OpenSpan has made this so easy, it is available to try by anyone, as a free download from download free IDE - ENJOY

1 comment:

Dan Keldsen said...

I don't (yet) know OpenSpan well enough to recommend to my clients, but as someone involved in BPM and Portals (and many other technologies I'll ignore for the moment) for some 16 years now, I continue to this day to see unmanaged silos and far more manual work being done than we should see in 2010.

We bought computers in companies to make us more efficient, and yet business users are slaves to poorly designed/integrated systems.

I'd be willing to bet my "Avoiding the E2.0 Silo Trap" presentation from the Enteprise 2.0 Conference this year in Boston resonates with your audience. Even well designed (UxD) stand-alone apps can suck the life out of you if it doesn't make your overall working world easier to handle.