Sunday, April 18, 2010

Change the back end, not the UI

Image representing Salesforce as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase
I watched four hours of the Atmosphere event yesterday. Sure, a lot of it was Google preening and PR, but there were a lot of surprises. The iPhone and Blackberry were mentioned much more often than android phones. Several different OSes were used for demos, along with different browsers. MS, Zoho, , and several other Google competitors were mentioned as viable alternatives, which definitely breaks the Marketing 101 rule: "If you're the market leader, never mention your competition." (UFS, why can't you act mature?)

That's not really what this blog post is about, though. I want to mention a couple of gems that were buried deep in lectures and demos.'s new social layer (Chatter) is a blatant rip-off of . They admit it. They even revel in the fact. Why?  Everyone in the new generation knows Facebook, and everyone understands it. Training costs to start using Chatter are almost zero. Turn it on, people immediately get it, and they immediately start using it. It doesn't matter that the interface for FB sucks or that a new kind of interface would be more efficient.

That brings me to the second, related point: don't change the interface. Add functionality on the back end, but leave the interface alone. The automobile analogy was almost required. Repeat: leave the interface alone. I fear the day GNOME 3 comes out, no matter how clever and "intuitive" it is. I much prefer the work around Elementary Nautilus and integration of Zeitgeist and Tracker. In fact, my old notes for GNOME 3 were pretty much total integration of tagging into the desktop and every application, while leaving the tags to appear as directories in the file manager.

Just something to think about. Cue comments about button placement in 3, 2, 1 ....


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