Monday, December 16, 2019

Users Really DO Care About Your Interface

Last week I got a first-hand look at a user's reaction to a poorly designed interface. It made me smile.

I was in for a minor, routine medical procedure. The pre-op nurse was asking questions and entering my answers into the clinic's on-line medical records program. She noticed me staring at the screen and, perhaps thinking I was getting impatient (pardon the pun), felt she needed to apologize for how long it was taking. I assured her that I was mostly curious about the input process for professional reasons, having been a Relational Database Applicaton developer for many years. That prompted her to elaborate.

The system she was using required her to put in a couple of data points, then click a button or link to move to a different screen to add a few more data points, then move to a different screen for something else, and so on. She then explained that at her other job, they had a different system that allowed her to just scroll down as she entered data, without clicking and and waiting for a new screen to load. Much more efficient, at least in her opinion.

That told me a couple of things. First, she has joined the so-called Gig Economy and has, for better or worse, a variety of work environments to compare. Probably, she's not the only one doing that these days.

But more importantly, it told me that interface design is a big deal. I doubt that this particular nurse would give up a particular job because of it, but I would bet that if it came down to a choice between the two positions she holds, she is very much aware of, and concerned about, the usability of the tools available at the two.