As little as 5 years ago the “fancy” application software was found at the office, while we used relatively nasty £19.99 or even shareware software at home – but nowadays people regularly use applications like FaceBook, Bebo, et al. These systems provide a level of engagement, fun, interactivity, and a higher understanding of human drivers than any serious business software to date has even dared grapple with. Nonetheless, every software business is now racing to put a Web 2.0 “badge” on their products.
Web 2.0 is a revolution in our understanding rather than a technical innovation, but it appears that very few people actual “get” this – I’ve lost count of the number of experts I’ve heard saying things like, “we need to put some web 2.0 functionality in here”, or “we need to get the teachers using some web 2.0 stuff” – this is not about adding a few extra buttons, or a blog feature, or bolting on a “profile” page – it’s about changing the very heart of a system from OBJECTS to PEOPLE.
Software systems have for too long been designed by technical people, focused on features, bits and bytes (witness the Becta Technical Spec), but there is a growing realisation that successful software is about PEOPLE. We now have a new understanding that puts PEOPLE first; that puts FUN, CREATIVITY, and ENGAGEMENT before FEATURES. This doesn’t mean that features aren’t important, of course they are, but they are irrelevant if no-one wants to use the software in the first place. Software needs to wow people, it needs to be fun and engaging, it must reward the efforts of its users EMOTIONALLY. Witness most of Apple’s products, and of course, Frog’s products (sorry, how can I not? ;) )
People expect more nowadays. They’re used to things that speak to them on a personal level. They’re used to things that don’t look corporate and nasty. They’re used to things that use human terminology rather than techno-gibberish. They’re used to things being much more, well, cool.