Qualities of Great Software Design

What makes a great web application?

From David Verba, Director of Technology, Adaptive Path:

  • A successful product depends on the experience your users have and how well your product serves their needs.
  • Don’t try to be everything to everybody.

Selections from Robert Hoekman, Jr., interaction designer and usability specialist:

  • It conforms to the way users interact with the Web, but focuses on the activity instead of a specific audience.
  • It has only those features that are absolutely necessary for users to complete the activity the application is meant to support.
  • It has uniformly designed interface elements, but leverages irregulariry to create meaning and importance.

My design goals include those above plus:

  • It is fast and responsive.
  • It provides continous feedback to guide users.
  • It minimizes navigation and focusses on activity.

It’s all Plain Old Common Sense

Each of these goals of great software design are rather self-evident. I list them here as a reminder to myself and other web application designers to design applications not around a technology convention, framework’s expectations, or IT models of what an application should be but around the user’s experience.