Looking back on some of the software and hardware developments of the last decade one of the things that stands out for me is how the Apple products marked a turning point and a wake up call to the industry. After decades of software bloat and over-engineering, Apple proved in a couple of killer products that simplicity of use can have more customer pulling power than the best list of features.
The idea of having a single button as the main device control was revolutionary and a very marked move away from the ever increasing complexity and endless menus being added to equivalent products of the time. It now seems somewhat bizarre that it took the industry so long to realise that intuitive use is so much more powerful than having to read a manual to work out how to program the proverbial video recorder! (another wake up to the industry – no-one reads manuals and so the product shouldn’t need one).
However don’t be fooled by how much work it takes to create a simple, elegant design. The irony being that the end design can seem so simple and obvious that the vast hours required to whittle the design down to its elegant form is often completely missed by the user.
Of course, in simplifying a product you have to make up for loss of features with other customer gains. In Apple’s case it was the beautiful quality of the user experience from the very first moment they opened the box. That said however, some of the best and most popular apps in the AppStore are those that purely focus on providing core functionality in the most intuitive and customer pleasing fashion.
We’ve been very conscious of these issues in our design of IssueCentre – as we strive to keep to our mantra of Easy, Powerful and Obvious. We work in an industry where most competitors look to provide a product that covers the entire ITIL framework and so its no wonder that so many products end up hugely complicated and cost a fortune in customisation, configuration and user training – all before the software’s even been deployed!
Much to my shame, I have to admit that we do currently have a User Manual (some customers expect and demand it), but it is certainly not our expectation for users to want use it and I’m happy that it is treated as a last resort. In fact we would far prefer people to phone our support line and ask any questions than go searching in a manual. We’re not anywhere near as big as Apple or Microsoft so you’ll be able to speak to an engineer far quicker than you’re likely to want spend finding the answer in any User Guide.