Familiarity versus New and Better

19 Apr 2005 - 7:59am
11 years ago
1 reply
600 reads
Tadej Maligoj

This is more a political matter of question. People (in this case:
users) acustom very well and quick to good solutions. So I would go
for a). Of course, if you are sure your solution is better.

The only drawback is that the "mother's" failures will be even more
visible. Mother could get angry ... ;+)


On 4/19/05, Weevers, Ivo <ivo.weevers at vitatron.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> Hello,
> The company I work for develops a medical application on a kind of specific medical laptop and has about 5% of the world market. Our mother company holds about 50% of the world market and develops a similar application for the same purpose on the same laptop.
> The users of our applications (cardiologists) need to use both applications. The usability of the mother company's application violates many general usability rules and we also know from experience that users are not always pleased with the way the user interface is organized. However, mostly - since the mother company owns 50% of the market and users need to work with the application often - they become familiar with the application.
> I am in two minds now:
> A.) Should we - as a relative small company - try to improve the application usability with the result that our application will differentiate from the one from our mother company and people possibly need to get used to a somehow different user interface?
> B.) Or should we stick to concepts that do not support the user from a usability point of view very well, but do support them with what they are used to?
> Does anyone have any thoughts or examples on this issue?
> Thanks in advance.
> Ivo Weevers
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Tadej Maligoj, Information Architect
e1: tadej.maligoj at gmail.com
e2: studio at maligoj.com
m: 031 306 986
w: www.maligoj.com


19 Apr 2005 - 8:43am
Gerard Torenvliet


One way to work around any of the political issues here is to note that:

1. Preventible medical error is a huge issue in the U.S. right now. In
1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that between 44,000 and
98,000 hospital deaths per year are due to *preventible* medical
errors. (To put this in perspective, it's like one and a half 747s
crashing per week, killing all on board.)

2. A number of companies have been hit with large lawsuits and
unfavourable public exposure due to errors induced by poorly designed

In other words, you can tell the people that you are working with that
there is more than just an ethical imperative to try to design the
best interfaces possible, there is a market opportunity (the medical
scene is apparently awash in poorly designed technology), and there
are negative consequences for not doing so.

That having been said, there is a deeper question here: will a
well-designed interface actually foster poorer overall system
performance? This is quite possible. When it comes to life-and-death
situations, it is very important that each individual piece of the
solution coheres with the solution as a whole. This is a judgment you
have to make.

In the end, the best overall solution might be to come up with a
proposal of a better interface, demonstrate that the new design
promotes better performance in its own local sphere, and then show
this to your mother company as an opportunity: if they work on their
software and you work on yours, you could find new ways to dominate
the market and make for safer medical practice.

Please keep us posted on your progress!


Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

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