Monday, May 31, 2010

One for the other

Of all the things I’ve noticed about software development, it’s that branding and experience don’t always mix well together. Properly designed, well-written software is supposed to be seamless and non-intrusive. When I enter an equation into my calculator, I expect it to provide me with an answer; I don’t expect the calculator to constantly remind me that it is made by “Casio”.

This poses a serious problem because if the brand isn’t in the forefront of the users’ thoughts, how will they recognize it? On my brother’s computer, the antivirus software makes every attempt at reminding me that it is “Norton” and it is tirelessly working in the background. By being so blatantly intrusive, it acts to reinforce the brand and to reassure those who fear viruses.

Ironically, this over-branding is what makes the experience so counterproductive. Norton does a fantastic job at reminding users that the internet is a dangerous place, but this has a negative effect in that it helps reinforce the fallibility of Windows to its users. As a Windows user, I fear it. How is Microsoft supposed to provide a positive experience when its users don’t trust the product?

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