Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Design-Thinking hasn't caught on in software

One of my colleagues, Francis Beaudet, just wrote a great article for our Critical Path newsletter called Why is Design Thinking Failing to Penetrate Software Companies? I love his point about how software teams think "Waterfall" when they hear "design up front" and run away screaming.

I'll add another reason why UX and usability isn't catching on at all software companies (or why some are simply paying it lip service) - with most enterprise software, the Buyer is not the User. Large enterprise systems are sold at a C-level or to the IT department, and often the people that have to actually use it, and whose productivity is supposed to go up tenfold for using it, aren't consulted.

On the other hand, in e-commerce, and to some degree SaaS, usability and user experience design is taken very seriously, because even small improvements in usability result in more conversions and more purchases. is a good example - compared to traditional monolithic CRM systems, is infinitely more usable. Why? Because it's sales-people who are buying it, not IT, and if was difficult to use, they wouldn't buy it.

I once visited a large enterprise software company, and they asked me - how do you work? When I explained how we approach a project - observing users, rapid prototyping, testing and validating with users, and so on, their reply was, "that's nice, but we don't have that luxury here. We just hire good designers and make our best guesses".

Enterprise software companies could take a few lessons from .coms and SaaS companies, before their lunch is completely eaten.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Back from vacation and almost through my email backlog. I was happy to see an email from the folks at Alltop, saying my blog has been added to the innovation section of Alltop. If you're interested in Innovation, there are a number of great blogs there to check out.

Back later this week with a more insightful post. These days, everyone is recycling their old content and adding "in tough times" to the title. Heck, I recently received "Storage strategies in tough times", so in keeping with the times, I was thinking of posting something about "innovating in a downturn" :) Stay tuned for that bombshell...