navarjun

Creatives vs. Evolutionists

Ever since Steve Jobs repeated the famous words from Henry Ford: “If I would have asked people what they wanted; they would have told me: a faster horse.”, the software community, be it designers, developers or managers, has been focusing on creation. Most of the time is spent on thinking about new features or products that are/do something new, and in this process the evolution is ignored. Considering the thought process behind the products these days, it’s no wonder that the status of software products these days is not good. I’m a grad student and I study information design, so does my girlfriend. We were sitting in library one day working on a project. She was using Adobe Illustrator, and suddenly it crashed. Of course she lost some of the work, which she had to do again unwillingly. Anyone who has gone through this experience will start hitting ‘command+S’ every time they make a change, even if it’s small. Now this behavior is extended by the human mind to other similar things too, I don’t mean Sketch only, but even something as trivial as a word processor: Pages. We live in a world where we don’t trust the software at all. We keep multiple backups because just backing up on Dropbox doesn’t feel reliable enough. And during all this we keep thinking about new things rather than fixing. Yes, I am, in a way, criticizing Eric Ries, The Lean Startup. But Adobe is not a startup, Apple is definitely not. The sad part is that a company who boasts about customer satisfaction every time they hold the stage, also has this problem. Evolution of anything is as important, if not more. Marco Arment, Casey Liss and John Siracusa in their podcast ATP have been talking about degrading Apple’s software quality. I want to extend that to other software products as well. As designers we talk about how aesthetics is not everything about a product, why don’t we consider the reliability as part of design. Of course, having that reddish orange button to say Cancel which turns red when tapped would be nice. But does it even matter if it crashes the app or worse just turns to red and does nothing else? I’m not arguing that we should be fixing bugs at all. But I’m talking about a further level. Why don’t we spend more time on products before launching them. Architects create, buildings, bridges, etc., by spending a huge time on them, and see how reliable they are. Since building cannot be updated that frequently, they have to consider everything and get it right the first time(except some small scale modelling and testing something new). As software “creators”, we also have the responsibility to make software reliable. And we have this advantage over architects, that we can update things very quickly(sometimes even in less than a day). We should use that advantage to build new features into the products, definitely, but whatever we build should be reliable, if it is not just tell the user. No, they don’t understand the meaning of ‘Beta’. Be honest. Anyhow, with all that written, allow me to say more. The software these days is so damn complex. Too many features, many of which are hidden in settings within settings. Deleting the profile on facebook is a so hard(deactivating, whatever). Reporting a user on instagram is harder. Reporting bugs to Apple, don’t ask. Why is it so hard to use these products. Ever wondered, why pencil(wooden pencil with graphite in it) is so easy to figure out. A 2 year-old uses it without issues, although it’s sharp and kids get hurt(only once, they learn after that), but everyone knows what it does and how it does that. My uncle called me one day to figure out why he was not able to copy files from his computer to a flash drive(usb stick), I tried to resolve the issue on phone, but had to get into Google hangouts and screen share(which has it’s own story, another time maybe) and then I realised that it was because he was using a Mac on an NTFS file system. Now, he doesn’t know anything about it, I just asked him to use another blank one format it in the right way and use. “FORMAT!! What is that?” he asked. Can’t really explain everything. But why can’t Apple just make NTFS readable and writable when individuals can make software to make Mac capable of that.

Why is it so complex?

By simple I don’t mean to say that every feature should be removed. Of course, we need advanced features. We should focus more on making those features of the software easy-to-use. The creative thinking is taking us to great lengths, why not few of us try to collaborate and evolute the products to be more reliable, understandable and give ability to everyone to come as far as “Pros”(people who know how to google and get things done). Well, yes, googling everything is not fine. Because everyone doesn’t know how to google google.