Although it might seem that internet, and the whole IT development came a long way and that we are now somewhere that is on the top of the digital evolution. Ah, how wrong we are. At least, I definitely hope so. A lot of things are good that we are dealing with, especially comparing it to how things started out, but far many other things are not that well done altogether yet.
What I notice on a daily basis is that on the back-end of computer systems, online and offline, things are still quite unstable, and understandably. As servers are still bashed with hacks, updates, patches and often all kinds of unwanted software, programming languages often are not 100% solid, and a lot of programmers (not all) know how to design and execute their code, but start programming their ideas immediately, the foundation of technology is seriously cracked. And we see this often, even in our browser, when the little icon shows up in the bottom of your screen, showing “Done, With errors on page”. Or pop-ups with error messages telling you the browser is going to close down. Games or applications shutting down while you were just typing another letter.
But on the front-end it is not a lot better though. It is not about design, but about stability and interfaces. I have already discussed the problem of platforms because of the not solid programming skills when I mentioned the attacks on the Flash platform earlier. But last week I was working with a client who had to set up an e-commerce store. After a while I received a panic call. I helped out and I was actually pleasantly surprised about the technology that was being used. Technically, it was very easy to use and very understandable, but that was me, I work with programmers, speak their language and know what they mean. This program should not be designed for programmers, but for normal users who run a store. Their focus is not computers and IT, it is their products and customer satisfaction. And then the moment comes that the required-to-run store designer simply does not want to work. A simple contact to the customer service tells us that that is because the client is running an Internet Explorer with a version prior to version 7. I love that, since I was actually sitting there, on that computer, on Internet Explorer that clearly shows version 8.
These are usually the things that I encounter. It is quite hard for qualified interaction designers to get their say in larger functionality processes, even when they are needed there the most. Simply, because the owners of the projects do not see it, and think often only in functionality, instead of usability. And as long as programming languages do not have an automated self-controlling system, and is able to prevent itself not only from crashing, but enforcing strict coding guidelines that do leave enough freedom for amazing work, but will block out most of the ‘rookie mistakes’, we will still have a long way to go before we are anywhere that is a solid foundation.
On the other hand, that is also a good thing, because that leaves us with enough of opportunities and possibilities.