A Matter of Great Importance

It has been a while since my last post. Work and the holidays have kept me pretty busy. During the past few weeks, I have had some time do so some of the reading that I have been meaning to do. Based on the content of the various books and journals I have been reading, it seems as though there is a great, ongoing debate as to which part of an application is more important: the user interface (UI) or the back-end code (for the purposes of this entry, I am including any data storage mechanisms and logic code including databases and stored procedures).

To me, this debate seems pointless. The answer to the question of “which is more important?” is really quite simple…both parts are equally important!

The equality of importance is apparent when one examines the true purpose of a program. The true purpose of a program is to make some task easier and more efficient for someone. It is extremely important to never lose sight of this purpose since doing so will negatively impact the quality of the end product.

Both parts of a program directly impact the overall user experience. Obviously, the UI is what the end user sees and interacts with. If the UI is cumbersome and/or difficult to learn, the task has not been simplified and may in fact have actually become more difficult. User interfaces must be intuitive.

On the other side of the coin, if the back-end performs poorly (including stability issues), the user becomes upset because although the task may have been simplified, it may not be more efficient. Even the perception of poorly written code will ultimately result in lower user satisfaction. Therefore, it is important to minimize the level of poorly written code in order to minimize areas of poor performance and the perception of poor performance.

The most elegant user interface ever designed cannot save an application with a poorly written back-end. The most efficient logic code ever written will not be used or appreciated if the user cannot figure out how to exploit it because of a cumbersome UI.

It is for these [brief] reasons that I believe that equal time should be spent on the design and implementation of both the user interface and back-end portions of any program. Only when all components have been well designed and developed will user satisfaction reach its maximum potential.