The New User Interface Gets First "Test Drive"
While the concept of building software is called an iterative process, that concept does not sink in until the software is delivered and tested by the end users. The initial reaction by those familiar with the system and it history were very pleased and excited to have access to the new interface. It has all the essential functions well laid out and easy to use. It performs the key features well. The widgets that provide specially formatted views of art objects and tables containing data about artwork in the system, sorted by the users preference, will give users a powerful tool for organizing and finding information.
The iterative part of the software building equation comes to light when the primary users realize that like moving into a new home, the "furniture" needs to be arranged a few times and adjusted to feel right. This is the next step in the process of refining the user interface to make it as friendly and intuitive as possible. This adjustment process, while tedious, pays off in that the software will have a much shorter learning curve than it would if the interface were left unedited.
In the upcoming weeks, the software will be introduced to an extended group of first users at the National Gallery of Art conservation division. This roll out yields two important milestones. First, it marks the inaugural, institutional use of ConservationSpace in a production setting. Second, it provides valuable real use feedback to the development team so that any changes to improve the system are born from real life experiences rather than simulated use of the system conducted in the test phase of the development.