Working through the development of CAVR Design, I have been thinking about this hurdle that most people face when first using a new piece of software. At every stage of development, the user has always come first. As a mining engineer, it has been relatively easy to put myself into the users shoes and ask, what do they need, and how can that be achieved.
As a developer, it then becomes an interesting balance of implementing the technical features required for the software, while also ensuring that the experience of using the software day to day is pain free, user-friendly, and ultimately, useful!
This interesting combination of developer and end-user mindsets can have positive and negative implications. On the plus side, I am able to understand the user and their needs - I have been in their shoes, completed the tasks they are trying to achieve and understand their pain points to anticipate the features and functionality that they would expect. But as a developer, it is easy to become too close to the project. Understanding the functionality of software from the code-up means that it becomes second nature to know what button to press, what menu to access, what gesture to make - all of which are actions that may not be quite as obvious to an end user.
To combat this, user-testing and agile development is crucial to creating an optimal user experience. Throughout the ongoing development of CAVR Design, multiple users have tried and tested the software, noting what they liked, and what features they would like to see implemented next. Doing this means that as a developer, the users behaviour can be understood - are they finding what they need in menus? Reaching useful and productive outcomes? Leaving the experience satisfied? This user experience data can then effectively guide the future development of the product.
This has allowed CAVR Design to be developed into a solution which is easy to learn and quick to implement. There are no steep learning curves with days of training and brick-sized manuals. Users are able to put on the headset and feel immediately comfortable within the virtual workspace, their hands move with them, their view of the world is tracked in their headset, and each user can see and interact with others in the space in real-time. Any data required can be easily be loaded into the space and visualised, and plans can begin to be created within seconds.
This is just one of the benefits CAVR Design is able to provide for mine planning and design - more to come in the next post!