The recent ScobleMeme™ about why enterprise software isn’t sexy spawned an interesting conversation, but much of that conversation focused on the differences between consumer and enterprise software and failed to address the question, “should enterprise software be sexy?”
The answer, of course, is yes. While it’s true that many enterprise applications are decided upon and purchased by people who will never use them, the fact remains that countless poor schlubs will be forced to use them. And if you develop enterprise software, you have an obligation to these poor schlubs.
Years ago, before I entered the commercial software world, I worked in the bowels of corporate America, where the software I used was mandated by the powers-that-be. One of these mandated applications was a god-awful, designed-to-be-painful data entry program that treated its users the same way that a wolf treats a piece of meat. The sadists who designed this software clearly didn’t care about the end users. Sure, the application had all the features required by the people holding the purse strings, but it had the usability of a dead slug.
This horrible, punishing piece of software made my job suck. Seriously, I’d come home from work and need an hour-long bitch session about this application just to wind down.
There are plenty of arguments in favor of creating user-friendly enterprise software, but the one that seems to be neglected is the simple fact that you improve peoples’ lives by making software that’s a joy to use. If you’re an enterprise developer and you’ve forgotten that simple fact, then you’re adding to the world of frustration that too many non-techies are forced to live in.
And one day, one of those frustrated users may become a developer himself, and then use his blog to attack you and your shoddy, thoughtless work.
PS: Calling software "sexy" sounds weird to me. People can be sexy, but software can merely be attractive.