Sunday, September 18, 2011

UX Vs UI - Which Came First?

While the argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg, continues, one may contemplate also as to which came first, User Experience (UX) of User Interface (UI).

Terminology-wise User Interface came first. We used to create UIs without caring, contemplating on, or considering the overall user experience. Actually some of us have designed UIs without even considering the User.

Conceptually and also methodologically, User Experience precedes the User Interface. In properly crafted applications, user experience design comes first and out of the UX design the UI is formed.

From the user point of you, the UI comes as the first touch point of the application and the UI together with many other factors which are just as important produce the overall UX.

The following simple, short and funny video by Kai Brunner shows exactly that. It also shows how using a user-feedback iterative design a new UI is formed to create a new, and hopefully improved UX. And so on.

It is important to remember that applications must provide great positive user experience and that great positive user experience requires much more than a well-designed user interface. It requires also good performance, the right amount of data (not too little but not too much), functionality and service that are not necessarily visible, sense of reliability which is achieved by application robustness, familiarity and more.

And most importantly do not mix and confuse “design” with “decoration”. It is worth to discuss the difference between the two, but that is for a different post.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

“Don’t Get Stuck in the IT Past” - Opt for Application Rejuvenation

How metadata corresponds to IT anti-aging and rejuvenation.

Desktop applications that are installed and executed directly on every individual client machine are known to be very of cumbersome and costly maintenance and of limited reach. Enterprises realize that in order to reduce the application maintenance complexity and costs and to increase the application reach the applications must be installed, handled and accessed from a central server.

There are two main alternatives for achieving a server centered deployment: Virtual Desktop and RIA.

Virtual Desktop deployment enables the enterprise to keep its legacy desktop applications as they are and simply deploy them on high capacity servers equipped with the required virtualization software and enable any client machine to connect and have the desktop application run as if it was installed on the client machine without actually installing it there.

This approach, though costly, is the easiest path to choose. It is almost risk free because the application remains the same and no additional development is required.
Ay, there's the rub: The application can be kept in the technology generation it was last built in and the easy solution of Virtual Desktop, much like the green screen 5250 terminal emulator, lets the application fossilize and become stuck in the past.

Mocha TN5250 for Android provides TN5250 emulation for AS/400 terminal access - Practical but troubling...
I know, I know: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. But these days it is quite odd to see information and task workers work on 5250 screens using a terminal emulator. The desktop applications that are today being trapped in a virtual desktop may look reasonable today, but they will look as odd as 5250 screens two and three years from now.

The spoof video below, allegedly created by Microsoft, bashes VMware on being stuck in the past. Their arguments are of a different angle but the gist of the matter is very applicable in regards to virtual desktop based solutions.

Magic Software with its RIA technology, based on the flexibly of its metadata based engine approach, enables its customers to make the better choice and to evolve their applications to the next technology generation with the minimal conversion effort and risk. Magic Software customers do not need to compromise on a costly deployment and fossilized applications and enjoy the benefits of a lean internet based deployment with a modern desktop user experience.

Virtual Desktop can be somewhat compared to conventional medicine approach to anti-aging for extending life through means of prolonging long age. With this approach one lives longer but in an aging old body. A different approach to anti-aging is of true rejuvenation. Much like the Turritopsis Nutricula, the immortal jellyfish that is able to transform itself from its mature state back into a polyp (immature jellyfish) and then back again into a mature jellyfish.

Turritopsis nutricula, the potentially immortal jellyfish
uniPaaS metadata approach literally stores the application in a metaphysical form, enabling the application true rejuvenation with every new technology generation.

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