Why usability experts need to care about client/server architecture

By | November 1, 2012
Usability is so much more than just having a sexy UI. It's about how to make the machinery run well-oiled behind it. And for architects, its a game of chicken: find the best constallation of client-server processing distribution to match hardware capabilities, strategic desires, telecom pricing plans, and consumer wallets. With architecture playing such a key role in latency, though, I'm surprised that it receives so little focus other than research measuring how long a delay people are willing to accept can be.

Reshared post from +Wayne Radinsky

Client vs. server architecture: why Google Voice Search is also much faster than Siri. Google Voice Search "performs the voice recognition for each query on the client-side, while Apple’s Siri processes these requests on the server-side. […] The advantage of Apple’s method is that it enables 'server-side learning,' so that the system gets smarter overall, the more it is used. The disadvantage is that there can be a lot of back and forth to get an answer. In actual use, this distinction causes a noticeable lag in Siri’s response time compared to the almost instantaneous recognition from Google’s app. While Siri is going back and forth multiple times, Google is resolving the statement of the query on the client and then making a single request to the server."

Client vs. Server Architecture: Why Google Voice Search Is Also Much Faster Than Siri – Forbes
Google Voice Search, which is a feature of the Google Search app, performs the voice recognition for each query on the client-side, while Apple’s Siri processes these requests on the server-side. This…

4 thoughts on “Why usability experts need to care about client/server architecture

  1. Brian Wiens

    +Sophie Wrobel  It's a symptom of our binary world, which seems to be wired into most people's heads starting with boy/girl when they're born.  We seem incapable of seeing left AND right, up today but down tomorrow, client for this app but server for that system.  It tends to become dogmatic and religious, and loses relevance and effectiveness when we have to come down firmly on one side or the other – there are times when both are right, or when you just need to switch sides :-).

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  2. Sophie Wrobel

    +Brian Wiens agree completely – almost every project has a murky battle with no obvious solution on where to draw the line. That's legitimate, and a valid and healthy way of proceeding. What irks me, though, is that there are more than enough usability researchers who don't take client-server architecture into consideration at all when trying to make a 'usable' design pattern…

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  3. Brian Wiens

    Cool stuff – the battle between client and server is NOT clear cut.  There are advantages on both sides, and I expect this "battle" to continue indefinitely :-).

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