I have been thinking about this question ever since I started my first ‘real’ job in the industry when I was half way through university. Each time I think about UI design and what it means to software, I come to the same conclusion.
Market acceptance and widespread use of software is now becoming proportionate to the quality of the UI design of that software.
Traditionally, UI design wasn’t seen as important as functionality, regardless of what the user liked to see. UI design was seen as an unnecessary project expense. There didn’t seem to be a link made between UI design and usability. I believe that design and usability go hand in hand and usability will always impact on the functionality of software or at least the users willingness and ability to use the functionality provided. Unfortunately, this still seems to be the case in many software projects today.
Robert Scoble recently had an interview with Jenny Lam, a designer on the Microsoft User Experience team. It was very interesting to hear about the progress Microsoft and the rest of the industry has made with regard to UI design. As it should, UI design is now starting to become more important in the overall software design process. Although I am a developer, my current role is in a UI design team and I also see many of the struggles in trying to get UI design recognised as important to a product.