Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Software is a Tool

Software, in all forms, is a tool.  It's that simple. It's frustrating to read and hear declarations insisting "software is an experience!".

You have an experience using it, but it is not an experience itself, it's a thing that a person utilizes to get something done.  Its function and interface design can make that use a positive or negative experience, a productive or wasteful experience. Either way, the software itself is only a tool, a poor or well crafted tool.

Software itself is no more of an experience than the wrench you use to turn a 1/4" bolt is "an experience". The wrench design attributes are only part of an experience, as well as many other factors.  Is the bolt head rounded?  Is the bolt thread-locked or rusted?  Is the bolt head in a place it's hard to get your arm, your hand?  Are you working outside in the heat, the cold, etc?  Those elements as well as the wrench make up the experience, but the wrench alone is not the experience, the wrench is simply a tool.

Software developers need to prioritize designing great software tools that most efficiently and elegantly serve the purpose of getting something accomplished.  When they do that they are more likely to create software tools that consistently become a part of a good use experience.