Now that we have finally made it to the “final” version of Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom, I think it is about time to say a few words about the all important graphic user interface and what it means to the end user. Admittedly most users do not sit in front of their computers and ask themselves what they think about the user interface of a particular application, but they will instinctively decide whether or not they will use an application depending on how much they like it.
Since I was basically computer illiterate before the Macintosh came on the scene, my first experiences with computer software were early versions of MacWrite, MacPaint and MacDraw. These applications required no instructions whatsoever to use and instilled in me an appreciation for intuitive software that still exists today.
Many software developers and an even greater number of software users at that time, insisted that simple software was software that had limited functionality, that real software had to be difficult to learn and to use. This kind of thinking is unfortunately still the norm with most software developers and also has the majority of computer users fooled into accepting software, that is sometimes so unnecessarily complex and difficult to use that it becomes in the end almost unusable.
An unfortunate current day example is Adobe’s own Photoshop software. When it first came out it was actually a fairly simple paint program (which could handle millions of colors), but over the years it has become a jumbled mess of added on functions that only a software engineer, or Photoshop instructor, can truly appreciate. Photoshop is still a great and indispensable application for photographers and graphic artists, but badly in need of a visit to a GUI fat farm for a complete rehab.
Lightroom is in many ways the opposite of Photoshop, it is an application with a singular purpose, taking care of your digital images and presenting them in their best light. The process is broken down into three main areas, importing and organizing in the library module, processing in the develop module, and sharing as a slide show, print or website, in those three related modules.
The extremely simple and intuitive user interface of Lightroom is what hooked most early users of the Beta versions of Lightroom, and it is what will make the final release version a big hit with photographers world wide.