I’ve noticed recently that the topic of usability has been very popular, particularly as a topic of presentations at conferences, lightning talks, and un-conferences. For the consultant, contractor, or developer this subject is huge and in my mind needs to be given serious consideration. There’s many fine geo developers amongst us, many with great ideas for apps and/or services… but unless the idea and the implementation is kept simple why even bother? I see many fine mobile location-aware apps come and go, most with a great concept, and many falling short on usability and design. If the app doesn’t accomplish what it is reported to do then its going to fail, guaranteed. Additionally, if the UI isn’t kept simple chances are very good that users will bail out long before they even register or jump in to test the app’s full functionality. The developer of a great app or web service basically has once chance to make a great impression, so keep is simple and focus on the design… guaranteed to increase the chance that people will use and share details of your app.
A popular service that we’ve all heard loads of noise about recently comes to mind when I think of usability… enter Groupon (groupon.com). The app is so simple yet it does what its supposed to and it does it very well (recall groupon delivers users one locally relevant coupon deal per day). The user doesn’t get lost, it’s very basic in concept and it delivers a fun experience and very useful end results… SCORE!
I’m reminded of a presentation made at a recent Geo DevMeetUp event where City of Greeley (former) GIS Manager Brian Sullivan (@taliesn on Twitter) schooled us on good geo-design. Brian offered up some very practical tips on how to design well with the end user in mind… some good tips! From Brian, 10 rules for good design:
- good design is innovative
- good design makes a product useful
- good design is aesthetic
- good design makes a product understandable
- good design is unobtrusive
- good design is honest
- good design is environmentally friendly
- good design is long lasting
- good design is thorough to the last detail
- good design is as little design as possible