Systems & UX

There’s a reason most people cannot learn or navigate through systems. They are not user centred nor really designed for user experience (UX). They’re not designed for humans. They are designed for enterprises, for purposes of management, security and to support business needs, and ironically, hailed for bringing about “efficiencies”. Where as tools, such as, Web 2.0 tools provide benefit to users because they are relatively easy to learn and use, and, being a single use tool, they are good at what they do. They bring real value to users.

Most systems are developed, not designed, resulting in a clunky, frustrating user experience. As Tim Gunn writes in the Washington Post, about fashion designers not making clothing for real women, “this is a design failure and not a customer issue“. Most systems are based on old paradigms, old code and obsolete ideas borrowed from previous systems. Yes, there are some systems that are well designed and user centred, such as Apple OS using their Human Interface Guidelines. Or, in another discipline, Sweden’s Vision Zero which aims to redesign road systems to eliminate car passenger, pedestrian and cyclist’s deaths: They’re not car accidents, they’re inevitable collisions due to poor design.

At my previous job, I evaluated about 40 LMSs, most for Human Resources (compliance training, training tracking), and some for higher education. Most of them were the same: clunky, difficult to learn to use and to use, and poorly designed.

When we evaluated three LMSs for HR that I had short listed with the goal to choose one, they all appeared to be so similar in terms of look, features, clunky tools and overall poor design that they were indistinguishable form one another. None of them did anything very well. When we asked about accessibility, none of the vendors could answer our questions satisfactorily. Just pick one; they’re all as good and bad as each other.

In contrast, some of the higher ed  LMSs are quite good: CanvasOpigno (based on Drupal CMS), and Moodle, with a well designed template. And what do they have in common? They are all open source systems, supported by communities of developers, not proprietary systems developed by groups of people who think the same and borrow from one another.

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About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
This entry was posted in CMS, LMS, Web 2.0 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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