how to win a nobel prize

khoi vinh’s piece on the poor user-interface design of enterprise software was my latest forward to the business-intelligence list. this is something that has bothered me about vertical-market software for a long time, and i have mentioned it in passing before.

i think it stems from a certain combination of ignorance and laziness. i say “ignorance” because vertical-market software often comes from the hands of domain experts who just sort of cobble something together because they don’t really know better. the “laziness” comes in when they don’t recognize that they have really transitioned to being in the software business, and they don’t learn that business, and the vertical market they are addressing is just so happy to have something that they don’t demand something that software experts might develop.

and there’s the ongoing curse of upgrade-itis. from this ask metafilter discussion about final draft, the leading screenwriting software, you can read how it is getting more overburdened with features that fewer people use. that will likely be ongoing until some new piece of screenwriting software (scrivener?) hits a sweet spot of features that satisfies enough people that it will become the top dog, and then eventually get bloated with features in the ongoing quest for upgrade revenue.

the person who figures out how to get people to buy software upgrades that simply get rid of features that turned out to be not very useful will deserve some sort of nobel prize.

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