Of Usability and User Experience
There are a couple of things that I like about this picture. Well, not actually the picture, but the car itself. This is the dashboard of my Nissan Grand Livina. I am not sure if any other cars have similar dashboard or not, but I think this one is pretty usable. And from using the car, the usability factor can be found not just on this dashboard but also on some other components of the car.
So, you might ask yourself, "What is so special about this design? It sort of look like any other car dashboard to me. There is really nothing special about it." Instead of pointing out what's different between this dashboard and dashboard of some other car, I'll just talk about what I like about it.
This particular car is using automatic transmission. In that I can put the gear into Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, 1 and 2. What I like about this car is I don't have to look down at my gear stick to figure out what position I am in right now. I can just glance on the dashboard and know right away that I am currently in Neutral (see the boxed N indicator on the lower right).
Sometimes when you try to fill up your gas, you have to make a guess where the heck is the silly tank? Is it on the left side of the car or is it on the right side (especially if you are new to the car)? And I believe this is not just on this particular car model, a lot of new car models have similar tank position indicator. See the tank indicator to the lower right of the fuel gauge? It has a small triangle next to the gas pump icon? It tells me that my tank is on the right side of the car. Brilliant . And yes, I need to fill up my tank soon .
Another thing that is not in this picture, sometimes when stopping at traffic lights, I like to put the car to neutral and pull on the hand brake and when the turned green, I forgot that I put the brake on and started to drive (or sometimes the brake didn't get fully released). Can you guess what the car do? It beeps to tell me something is wrong!! . A quick glance at the dashboard afterward showed me that the break indicator is still on (It's not in this particular picture) and I can rectify the problem.
Another thing that I like about the car is that the steering wheel is adjustable. You can put it in a higher / lower position depending on your preference. For me, this is great since I need the extra leg room.
So, why am I talking about car when it has really nothing to do with software development? I believe we can learn from the team that design this car. They really put a lot of thought on how to make the life of the "user (driver)" easier. Thus making using "the product (car)" to be a little more comfortable and safer. The user (driver) doesn't have to think so much about the "user interface". There are less "noise" (not in the literal sense) to deal with.
I believe we should design software with similar mindset. I know that making thing more usable won't be easy for us (developer), but it is a reward in itself when the user find your software very usable and is having great experience using it.
As they said, "making thing simple is not simple at all". Making software is easy, but making good usable software is hard. So start thinking hard about this stuffs and have fun doing it.