R&D Software Tools Was One of the Most Surprising Things Heard at Harvard’s Cyberposium

Of the five most surprising things heard at Harvard’s Cyberposium on Sunday, #4 was Designers Use Badly Designed Design Tools.

Sadly, the hardware and interface designers whose job it is to create wonderful, well-designed products use tools that are badly designed. Asked why that was, Mariah Levitt, senior usability specialist at Continuum, didn’t mince words: “One of the most embarrassing things in the human factors and ergonomics field is that software products we use are so hard to use.”

One reason is that the market is small. “It’s too expensive for [vendors] to emphasize stuff just for us,” Levitt said. “We need people to get more into design and to speak louder.”

The problem isn’t confined to industrial design, said Matt Rogers, founder and VP of engineering for Nest, the maker of the intelligent thermostat. “If you look at electronic design tools like Cadence — they’re just s*$%t to run. They’re all really bad and it’s because they’re high cost and take years to develop and are used by tens of thousands of people. I’d love for one of you guys to solve this problem,” he told the audience.

Fortunately, some companies are already creating easy-to-use, highly effective design tools.  Check out the products from InnoAnaltyics, including InnoPin.com and InnoInventory.com, for  some examples of software tools made by and for designers.

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