A very wise man once said, "Keep it simple stupid!" Or if you prefer the same four-letter acronym, KISS can be said to stand for "Keep it, simple sweetheart." Whichever definition of the phrase sits best with you, it doesn't really matter. My basic point here is when designing web interfaces and how they flow to accomplish a given task, you have to keep your primary end-user in mind. When I was a twenty-something software engineer fresh out of college and ready to take on the world, this fact was brought to my attention in a VERY clear and unforgettable way. Here's how the story goes as I remember it.
An extremely talented and seasoned programmer who I met during my college years, let's him Jerry, warned me that no piece of software is done until the ultimate user of said software has had it in their hands for use. This piece of sage advice did not fall on deaf ears, but let it suffice to say I did not put it first in my mental index of stuff to consider when developing an application. Now, picture in your mind the picture slowly fading, we find ourselves suddenly transported 10 years or so into the future. By this time, I was the manager of a client-server software engineering group tasked with crafting some of the first branch office automation products available for the wonderful world of banking (Wasn't that a TV show? No; my mistake that was the Wonderful World of Disney.) Some would say they are one and the same. Ok; back to the topic.
Over the course of about 18 months, my team and I developed what we thought was the biggest, baddest, coolest, remote banking application on the face of the banking horizon. And, still to this day, it brings back fond memories of the terrific, talented, team and the out of the box solutions they crafted for the system. However, when Rev. 1 hit the users desks for final acceptance tests our glee surrounding the giant killer system we so lovingly gave birth to diminished somewhat when the customer department lead said something to the effect of, "This is all really nice and pretty, but if this is what a branch office automation product is we can't use it." Oh, how those comments took the wind out of our collective engineer sails. For a bit, we licked our wounds and told ourselves that surely the customers just missed seeing all the cool functions to make their jobs SO much easier. Surely, they just did not understand how many hours and days of sleepless nights and I must say blood, sweat, and tears that went into this beautiful thing. Surely, they will change their minds and see the light in the morning. NOPE - DIDN'T HAPPEN.
In our headlong reach for the stars of technical coolness, we missed understanding and applying the KISS principle - Cool does not equal functional. Now, you might ask what brought this so painful episode of my twenty-something engineerhood to my mind. It is this; C2C is just at the beginning stages of developing a web portal, and it will have one critical design construct that will differentiate it from the rest of the crowd. It will be so simple a child could use it (think a child with a credit card.) The customer demands it, and the market demands it. That said, it is with my hat in my hand I say, "Thanks, Gerry. Your advice is as true today as it was then ..."