I’ve just been to the IEHF careers fair. It wasn’t exciting. To be frank, it was extremely unexciting. The high point was a discussion of the ergonomics of samurai armour. Who knew that the shoulder flaps were to confuse the eye?
I came back from it in the rain, determined to record something about life in a company that isn’t really interested in a better user experience. Or rather, is only interested in a better user experience for the director.
I expect there are a lot of companies out there like that, so we’ll invent the company. Let’s say it’s a small company in, oh, pick a random place in the country that I know very little about – let’s call it Suffolk. We’ll assume it’s a software company, because I know quite a lot of software companies. Let’s pretend that they make something which is used occasionally by a lot of people who aren’t really interested in it. I know, it can be some small business accounting package, which is marketed to doctors’ surgeries and the like and is specially geared to people working all sorts of weird hours.
The company was set up by two guys. (No question, they’re guys.) They’ve known each other since school. One is glamorous and good-looking and all that sort of stuff, but is really rather interested in money and success. Let’s call him David (any resemblance to anybody currently in power is totally coincidental). He feels pretty confident about his software ideas because his mate, Gavin, is a really, really techy person.He’s not a total geek, he skis and likes fast cars, but there’s no doubt that he loves coding and he loves cool stuff and he is very, very bright.
And it’s been a success. David is good at selling ideas and knows about the issues around small practices and large patient numbers and how you manage all the shifts and payroll and stuff like that. And Gavin is a whizz at software. Their company has expanded and they’ve now got sales people and a human resources person and about six developers. And they’ve rolled out more products and they are happy happy people.
But, their client base has changed. They’re no longer dealing with people who are spending a lot of their time in setting up systems and running systems. They’re dealing with people who want to run a payroll program once a week or a report once a year amid a ton of other things that they need to do.
And they want their program to be whizzier and faster and cooler and better. BUT even though their program is amazing and you can set it up to do everything you want to for ever and ever in the most complicated ways possible so that their clients can personalise it down to the last acorn, they’re losing market share.
So they sort of realise that they need to make it easier to use. And that is where I got involved.