The user interface of an application is one of the most important selling factors – the default UI sets the first impression; and the first impression decides if the program gets booted off the handheld or not. I dare to say that my Daily Quote product has a decent UI – but anyways, a few analysts sent me suggestions for further improvement.

Improving UI is great, wohoo, throw away the old, here we go – but is this the right way? IMHO, it isnt – as you alienate your core user base when changing UI.

Microsoft radically changed the UI of its Office family – for the first time ever in the company’s history. When Windows 95 arrived, you could disable the Explorer shell and stay with Windows 3.x program manager – in fact, even my Windows XP box still has that archaic tool installed. The reason why Microsoft could afford the radical change is simple – they lead the market, and thus can squeeze down out throats whatever they want to. If I don’t upgrade, eventually, I wont be able to communicate with my partners at various ESDs and companies. Do or die…

On the other hand, for a Palm OS house, existing customers are a very precious resource as they can(and will) move away from your company if annoyed. Changing the UI of a product is a huge annoyance – so keep the improvements in check. Adding small and unobtrusive dialogs, etc is not the killer here – the problem starts when you revamp large areas of user interaction. For example, if users always had to use the menu and now get a toolbar button – eeker squeek!

DataViz had a great idea when they released DocumentsToGo 7 – but the toolbars were completely redundant and could be disabled. Essentially, I can have DocumentsToGo 9 look like v6 or v4 – and this is what keeps users loyal…

What do you think?

Related posts:

  1. Designing User Interfaces review
  2. No direct Windows Vista upgrades for Windows 2000 or Microsoft goes bonkers
  3. On sensible user interface design
  4. The value of beeing called a market leader
  5. Why Linux is no alternative for Windows 98 users

One Response to “On renovating user interfaces”

  1. MS remove ProgMan.exe in XP SP2… it does nothing at all.

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