I wish I had more time to spend at ozCHI 2006 - the best I could do was to spend a day there after I gave my presentation in the morning. I spoke about the great divide between software engineering and user centric design.
It was a fascinating experience hearing from and meeting a group of really interesting people - including human computer interaction researchers, information architects, anthropologists, psychocologists!
It was very obvious that the Human Computer Interaction community is very frustrated with us the software engineering community.
- we think that the user centric designers are too high level and waffly, and don't add much value except for 'prettying up the screen'
- we think these designers are too outgoing, and too outspoken, and too disruptive, every time they come to our cubicle to insist on having a conversation about designing the user experience, we think 'oh no!'
well, the (un)fortunate thing is that my observation throughout my career as a software architect is that without good user experience, software projects rarely succeed and enjoy wide user adoption.
So, we need to work hard with and closely with these designers and really close this gap in communication. They have some well proven practices and techniques that really helps with building good user experiences, and methods for testing and validating it!
I guess that's why we're software architects and nor just engineers. We not only need to deal with the hard core engineering challenges such as performance, security, scalability, reliability, maintainability, etc, but we also need to ponder about how I could design with a certain 'artistic excellence', so that the users enjoys a good user experience.
Join me in this endeavour?