User role-playing game
I have heard a couple of times people referring certain software as “Professional software” – meaning software so difficult to use or even understand that there are usually just few “experts” in the company who are willing and able to use it. I have heard a lot more often people asking for help in using some software claiming that they just cannot understand how this thing should work. Then the expert arrives and saves the day. The expert is the hero and the one asking for help is probably feeling inadequate, especially if the software in question should be used daily.
There are many reasons that these kinds of software exist. Most were created too quickly, with too few people and with too many features. The first thing that goes out of the window in this situation is usually ease of use, if it was ever even in. The initial user role that the software was meant for is forgotten. The software’s UI becomes a representation of the underlying code. The design in the underlying code may be the best in the world, but if the software’s UI is created with same logic – not with the logic of the users it is intended to – the outcome of the software cannot be good.
Some software were initially meant for some other use and for some other role. Then the usage of the software was extended to another role, but no changes were made to software itself to support this role. Then there are also a lot of software that were from the beginning meant for everybody, and afterwards are no good for anybody.
But there are, however, also real professional software. That is, so rich in features and complex in nature that you need to understand the surrounding field of expertise fairly deeply until the logic and usefulness of the software is at your grasp. E.g. in my work Adobe Photoshop is a good example. It is not meant for everybody, it is clearly meant and designed for graphic designer.
Next time you are buying either a ready-made or custom software ask the salesman: what is the most important user role that this software is meant for? If the salesman has a clear and rapid answer then there is higher probability that the software and it’s UI has also been build for this role.
You don’t need to feel inadequate – just pick the right software to use and you are the expert!