(A version of this series was first published in the newsletter of the Informatics Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians)
Those of you who know me (or maybe have just heard about me) know that I am a zealot about user interface design. With good reason! Those who think they are computer-illiterate are wrong; it’s their computers that are human-illiterate.
Software has gotten better over the years, but, truthfully, it’s still really, really bad. Mainline software such as that from Microsoft has – through usability testing, which is a key concept – gradually evolved to where it is reasonably good software. But ED software and other niche products have arguably lagged, due at least in part to the costs of usability testing. Have you ever cursed a computer or punched a monitor? (Be honest now!) Have you ever used a new computer or a new program that:
- was just right for your needs,
- worked perfectly out of the box,
- had no need to look at manuals or online help,
- improved your productivity right away,
- provided nice new functions that you didn’t even know you needed, and
- was as much fun as a good computer game?
Well, these are rhetorical questions, but they shouldn’t be. We need to raise our expectations of our computers and software. Read the rest of this entry