Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Human Aspect Of Software Engineering

As a computer scientist/software engineer, it's easy to forget about the human aspect of what we do. We are often so immersed in very technical parts of the software that we forget that everything we do is for a human. If we don't keep that human in mind, the product really suffers. No matter how technologically innovative a piece of software might be, if there isn't a real, useful human connection, the software will ultimately fail. In that sense, considering the human aspect is the most important aspect to consider when writing software.

Modern development treads seem to be making steps to consider end users more during the development process. For example, agile development stresses getting early involvement from users, to ensure that the human aspect of software is always addressed. They also encourage frequent updates and demos to customers to ensure that they are always satisfied by the product.

I suspect that a lot of usability issues stem from not considering the squishy thing between the chair and monitor. Most of user interface work seems to be figuring out the best way to create that connection between the cool techy thing the developers did and the human using it.

It's easy to forget that most people are not very technologically savvy. You'd be surprised at the amount of people who don't know that you can right click. I think it's really cool that Interpolation search is O(log(log(n)).. Most people, however, don't care about this at all. They do care about reducing their search time in your software though.

It's important to always keep this human aspect of software engineering in the back of your head at all times. It can really improve the software you produce.

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