User Experience & Software Engineering

I remember, as if it were yesterday.

I was sitting in the ground station laboratory at the European Space Agency, needing to setup a test configuration using the “Monitoring & Control Module,” and staring at a grey screen full of mis-aligned, inconsistently-sized tabs on top of three-dimensional squares, on top of more squares on top of more tabs. The feeling was one of hopelessness and nausea. Who designed this thing? What were they thinking? Was the UI simply given to the most available “resource,” or perhaps the summer intern?

It was at that moment that I decided to start a company—MakaluMedia—in which “user experience” would drive everything we do. Understanding user experience in terms of user interface, interaction design and visual design, although challenging to articulate concisely, is still at least somewhat intuitive to most of us. Understanding and articulating it in terms of software engineering—which can be just as important to the overall experience of a software product—has always been (for me, at least) particularly challenging.

I read an article today, however, from Matt Gemmel, that really nails it. I’d recommend this as important reading for any teams and engineers involved in the creation of software products, and who care deeply about user experience.

http://mattgemmell.com/2010/03/09/engineer-thinking

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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