Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ReMIX : UX Sux's

Today was the first day of the ReMIX 07 conference in Melbourne. ReMIX is the Australian version of Microsoft's recent MIX conference and was designed to kick start Silverlight development in Australia. During the keynote this morning there was a lot of talk about getting designers more involved in the development process. Despite that the vast majority of the audience were self confessed developers. Still I wonder how inclusive the designers (and for that matter the developers) found the language. For example, Brian Goldfarb spent much of the keynote talking about "form factors" (ie mobile phones are an example of a form factor, desktop computers are another example) and "market vectors". I imagine the only attendees who might feel at home with this jargon are involved in marketing not interactive design. Even worse it turned out the obscure UX used throughout the agenda turned out to be an acronym for "user experience". It seems that even bad acronymns can offer a poor user experience. More humourous was Goldfarb's insistence on referring to R.I.A's as a whole word (pronounced ree-a) making me think of nothing so much as diarrhoea.

Whats my point? It just this; if you can't talk a language that your audience can relate to how do you hope to convince them that you developed a product with their needs in mind. Microsoft have never really understood design and it's importance for usability. But they've never tried to develop designer tools before. If they have any hope of getting designers on board they have to understand designers and what they are looking for in a software package. Flash itself was never that cool. It became cool because some really cool designers embraced and made it do cool things. If Silverlight is to become as successful as Flash it needs to engage designers. But it will never achieve that as long as they fill their speeches with marketing jargon.

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