Monday, February 1, 2010

Looks Do Matter

I had a bit of inspiration about software development recently. The circumstances are perhaps a bit unusual. I was sitting with my wife in labor and delivery at the hospital. The monitors for mom and baby are hooked up to a computer. The application which graphs the vital information for both had two features which really caught my eye. First was an animated stork which flew across the top of the screen. The second was that a nurse changed the colors to be shades of blue because we were having a boy.

Neither of these features provided additional functionality to help the doctors or nurses attending to us. What they did do was provide us with a bit of comfort. We spent most of our time watching the screen to ensure all was well. The little UI touches made what was a very sterile medical application a bit more comforting to expectant parents.

The “ah ha” moment for me was that too often I focus on providing raw functionality and information. I don’t always consider the impact of those little UI touches as I should. I’m very excited though about some recent UI development breakthroughs with LinkTrust.

Our upcoming release features some new graphing capabilities in the affiliate center. They will be the first of a number of graphs we plan to add in coming releases. We are also working on some other major UI enhancements in coming releases. While functionality is very important I’ve learned so are those little UI touches.

Now before you get too concerned, none of the UI enhancements will involve flying storks or dancing babies. Although perhaps a animated mouse being clicked might be in order.

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