A recentpoll on CMS WiRE on digital asset management (DAM) challenges cited “usability” and “taxonomy/metadata development” as the primary challenges followed very closely (statistically essentially as important) “building the business case/ROI” and “user adoption of the system”. While the poll provided no demographics or information on whether these were actual digital asset management software users or not, the results are not surprising. Usability IS important.
CMSWire Poll Results: Digital Asset Management Challenges
Usability often includes a number of things. To me, usability is defined by a combination of functionality and user interface (UI). How well does the user interface allow me to do what I need to do, in the most efficient manner? Or said another way: How easy is it for the user to perform a specific task or set of tasks? With respect to a DAM system, it is about how easily the product allows me or a team of us to complete a particular workflow.
To me usability is about simplicity. Not so much making the function simple, but making it easy to do the function simply. In it’s finest form, it is elegant. Elegance is about making the difficult easy, and the easy beautiful. It’s the end result of continual refinement, and a lot of effort that went into that process of refinement. Elegance demonstrates a certain simplicity and ease of movement that hides underlying complexity. I often think of dancers who move fluidly across the floor — they are making very complex dance steps look easy and simple. With respect to software, elegance would imply that performing the task is easy to learn, easy to understand, easy to do. Apple’s iPhone is a great example of this — it’s very easy to use, to get the device to do the task you want. Another term that people apply to user interfaces and usability is “intuitive”. Intuitive often means that the approach is so simple that it’s obvious and natural. I think intuitive interfaces are hard to design, and hard to define, but you know it when you experience one.