Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Intuitive Software Design: The gift that keeps on giving

Since the beginning of computers and software development, the user has wanted ease of use and an intuitive interface. Developers under strict deadlines and rigid design constraints produced functional software designed to complete the task at hand.

For years, users struggled with tedious and sometimes cryptic screens that took a long time to master. This was exacerbated by the fact that programmers rarely left their cubicle, let alone talked with a user. Only recently, has there been an effort by developers to meet user demands for functionality coupled with ease of use.

What is intuitive software design? First, let's look at the definition for intuitive.

intuitive: adj: spontaneously derived from or prompted by a natural tendency.

Intuitive design as it relates to software is designed from the ground up to flow with the user's natural tendencies with the goal of efficiently completing the required task. By working with the user's natural tendencies, the software will become more natural and usable.

To achieve this goal, the development team must leave the office and watch users work in their environment. In one case I studied, programmers designing a medical billing software package went to the doctor's practice and spent days performing the daily tasks with the front and back office staff. Only with hands on experience like this, can intuitive software be developed.

The benefits of this are numerous. By creating software that conforms to user's needs and work-flow, the learning curve is shortened. The training expense is reduced due to reduced training time. In addition, ongoing training and support is reduced as staff changes or existing staff take on new responsibilities. Another benefit is that the required workload is completed more accurately and efficiently. If the software is comfortable and instills confidence in the user, then the work will be more accurate, the staff will be happier, and the efficiency of the operation will improve.

When looking for new software for your business, insist on a full demonstration. If while viewing the demo you find yourself understanding what you are looking at with little explanation, then this implies an intuitive user interface.
Software that flows with user's tendencies can justify the switch to a more intuitive software system. Coupled with newer technology and features, the cost justification for upgrading can become very compelling.

For more information on Medical Billing Software, go to

As an independent consultant with LAtech, Lori Anderson has worked with Antek HealthWare on their DAQbilling Medical Billing Software and LabDAQ Laboratory Information System projects. Her experience in the medical field is extensive and includes expertise in laboratory operations, billing services, and private practice operations.


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