Academic software interfaces generally aren’t suitable for serious use

Particularly in the field of Human-computer interaction and Educational technology, academic work often involves creating software systems which instantiate the researchers’ ideas. This can work well for computational ideas, but when the ideas are about interfaces, these systems are typically executed at too low a fidelity to deeply understand their impact in authentic environments (contra Effective system design requires insights drawn from serious contexts of use).

I suspect there are two reasons for this:

  1. Creating well-crafted software systems requires extensive skill and tacit knowledge, which tends to be acquired over years of industry experience.
  2. These systems are typically developed by a grad student as part of a research project. Often each student builds their own system, so they don’t accumulate; or, each student builds off some system that the lab has been evolving but barely maintaining for the past decade, which has so much technical and design debt as to make quality impossible.
Last updated 2023-07-13.