Last week, Seth Godin made a good point about website design.
Seth made me think about software interface design. I think the same principle should apply here as well: your interface should not be noticeable. It should not take from the work that’s being done.
With AceProject, our goal is to get out of our users’ way and let them manage their projects. It’s nonsense that someone should spend so much time just setting up the project. It’s nonsense that the project manager would have to spend hours and hours babysitting the project. And the sad truth is, with many project management solutions (online and offline), it is often the case.
It is a challenge to make an interface easy to use and functional, without forgetting to make it aesthetically pleasing. But it has to be done. It’s a delicate balance between making features easily accessible and not drowing the users with choices.
I’ve rarely heard someone say “This interface is so complicated, but it’s just too pretty, I can’t stop using the product.” I’ve often seen people live with ugly tools that were functional, though.
Usability should be the number one requirement for any software. If it can’t be used, it won’t be sold (much).