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matters of Design
Jason Hong considers how software companies could
effectively incorporate first-rate design into their products.
Jason Hong “Why is Great Design so Hard?” http://cacm.acm.org/ blogs/blog-cacm/96476 I want to take a slight detour from usable privacy and secu- rity to discuss issues of design. I was
recently at the Microsoft Faculty Summit, an annual event where Microsoft
discusses some of the big issues and
directions they are headed.
In one of the talks, a designer at Microsoft mentioned two data points I’ve
informally heard before but had never
confirmed. First, the ratio of developers to user interface designers at Microsoft is 50: 1. Second, this ratio is better than any other company out there.
As someone who teaches human-computer interaction, I wanted to
push on this point, so I asked the hard
question: “On a relative and absolute
scale, Microsoft has more designers than Apple or Google. However, I
think most people would argue that
Apple and Google have much better
and easier-to-use products. Is it an organizational issue, a process issue, a
skills issue? What do I tell the students
I want to make clear that my question
wasn’t meant to be negative of Micro-
soft specifically. It actually hits on a per-
vasive issue facing the software industry
today: How do we effectively incorporate
great design into products? Because, to
be blunt, a lot of user interfaces today
are just plain bad. Painfully bad.