Steve Jobs really was an exceptional individual. I think most people would agree that he has had more influence over the software industry than any other single person. And it is very difficult to imagine how anyone else will be able to pull off anything like what he has achieved ever again.
I think one of the great things about Steve (and I think in a strange way we all feel like we knew him personally enough to call him by his first name) is that he really cared about user experience. UX is something very close to my heart. I took my earliest education about user experience from developing for the Mac. The very first book in the set of technical reference material for the Mac was about the Machintosh user experience. What a concept: user experience comes first; all those technical details are secondary. Wow! The user-interface principles I learned from that book are timeless, and as relevant today as they were then. Steve loved beautiful things, he had a brilliant sense of design, and ultimately he had tremendous style! And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.
That last line was shameless plagiarism, taken from my favourite clip of Steve’s – Steve Jobs on good taste! I’m pointing you to this clip not because it shows Steve dissing one of his competitors, but because it shows how passionate he really was about user experience. And because I find it hilarious.
The reality is that Steve has turned the world of user interaction on its head not just once (which would be an achievement for any one person) but at least four times. I’m not going to ramble on about the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, and the copy-cats that his innovation has inspired – but the bottom line is that the world became a different place once Steve was finished with it.
So what’s the twist?
Well, the twist is that for the area of the IT industry I work in (and it’s very likely you do too, if you’re reading this blog) is that the world of electronic forms is a different place now to what it was a few short years ago.
Your customers want to – actually, they insist on – interacting with electronic forms on their smart phones and tablets just like they are able to on their desktop computers. And they want those forms to behave using a touch-oriented user experience, and be stylistically consistent with the device that they are using.
And this is a huge problem for you. Because you have to learn a whole lot of new technologies and paradigms, and start building your electronic forms in several different ways, to suit the varying devices out there. Which is a massive investment in learning, form development, and testing. It’s not as if form development was so easy in the first place, now you’re going to have to learn how to do it in multiple ways for different devices.
Or do you?
Avoka has been hard at work on the new version of SmartForm Factory, which we announced at Adobe MAX in October 2011. The major new feature of SmartForm Factory V3 is the ability to design a form once, and then automatically “render” it appropriately for whatever device the customer is using – whether that be a desktop computer (with or without Adobe Reader installed), a iPad or Android tablet, or an iPhone or other smart phone.
We’ve done all the hard work, so that you don’t have to. SmartForm Factory allows you to design your forms once, and have them run perfectly on all these types of devices.
We’re very excited about electronic forms becoming first class citizens in this new world that Steve has created for us. Please visit the SmartForm Factory page on our web site for more details, and check out the data sheet or the white paper on “Enabling Digital Self-Service”. Alternately, please contact us for more information.
Thank you Steve – you will always be an inspiration.