Sexy Software Sells: User Interface Ranks Higher than Functionality


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We all know the car salesman’s trick of draping a busty girl in high heels and skimpy shorts over a fancy sports car. But after you get to work in your new car, does this approach work for the next generation of EDA software? Put a slick, easy-to-install, easy-on-the-eyes application in front of a potential new user, and the time to close the sale may be less than five minutes. If a user can’t jump right into the driver’s seat and hit the accelerator, the sale is lost, regardless of the software’s horsepower. Forgive the mixed metaphors.

This isn’t news to most of us, but it is worthy of examination in the EDA world. The concept of a user interface was really only introduced with the success of Windows  95, less than 20 years ago. There had been earlier attempts, but none were as widely adopted. However, in the EDA world, the new operating system proved to be a headache for the existing vendors, because CAD software had been supported on HP-UX or Sun-Solaris for nearly 20 years. Supporting a new operating system was a resource burden.

While EDA companies struggled to upgrade to support Windows, Microsoft was taking the world by storm.  I spent my sophomore year of college learning how to hand-draft drawings, but by my senior year, we were all fluent in AutoCAD.  When I was recruited by Intercept, you can imagine my dismay and confusion at the clunky and nearly impossible-to-use schematic application that I tested for quality assurance. What a buzzkill. I couldn’t understand how anyone could get anything done with this software.

Read the full column here.


Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of The PCB Design Magazine.

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