Software Architect

For the end-user, the interface is the system

Book: 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Author: Richard Monson-Haefel
97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know – 96/97

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There are too many good products hidden behind bad user-interfaces. The end-user will access the system through its user interface. If the quality of the user’s experience while interacting with your product suffers, then his impression of your product will suffer, no matter how technologically advanced and path-breaking your product might be.

The user interface is an important component of architecture and an often-neglected one. The Architect should enlist the services of specialists such as user experience designer and usability experts. The user interaction experts along with the architect can drive the interface design as well as its coupling with the internal mechanisms. Involving user-interface experts at an early stage and throughout the product development phases ensures that the final product is polished and the integration of the user interface with the product is seamless. The Architect should also look at doing user-interaction testing while the product is still in beta with actual end-users and incorporate their feedback into the final product.

Often the usage of a product changes over time as technology changes and features are added. The Architect should ensure that user-interface changes with the architecture reflecting the expectations of the users.

User-interactions should be one of the goals of the complete product architecture. In fact user-interaction should be an integral part of the decision-making process for architecture trade-offs and internal product documentation as much as robustness and performance. Changes in user-interaction design should be captured over time, just like code. This is especially true in products where the user-interface is written in a different programming language than the rest of the product.

It is the architect’s responsibility to make the most common interactions not only easy but also rewarding for the end-user. Better user-interfaces lead to happier customers , which helps improve customer productivity. If your product helps people become more productive then it will contribute to the business’ bottom-line.

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By Swatantra Kumar

Swatantra is an Open Source evangelist, a technologist and researcher. Professionally, he does software development, software architecture, server administration and project management. When he's not writing software, he enjoys building web entities and servers, reading about and working with new technologies, and trying to get his friends to make the move to open source software. He's written, co-written and published many articles in international journals, on various domains/topics including Open Source, Networks, Computer Organization, Mobile Technologies, and Business Intelligence. He made a proposal for an information management system at University level during graduation days.

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