When I describe a certain piece of software, I'll often add to the end of my description that the tool in question is either intuitive or powerful.
Simple comparisons like Photoshop vs Preview, Trello vs Jira, Excel vs Google Spreadsheets are demonstrative of these dual principles. Something that is intuitive is easy to pick up, everything to be used is present on the screen, and does a few things well and quickly. In contrast, something that is powerful, has loads of features, complex and detailed minutiae even to do a simple task like saving, and of course, gives you complete control of whatever your subject is.
Generally speaking, most of us don't buy a $600+ copy of Adobe After Effects (well, you can just use Creative Cloud...) if MovieMaker will suffice. We don't need those extra widgets, we only use it every so often and therefore, why pay that much.
After reading Chase Buckley's "The Future is Near: 13 Design Predictions for 2017", specifically prediction #9: Age-Responsive Design, I'd like to suggest software that exists in a specific user instance that lands on a spectrum between the intuitive and powerful. This is software that evolves its complexity based on your use, skill and demands.
In this case, your software wouldn't necessary be like ever other user's experience. Take a simple example - if you only need the Sum formula in Excel, perhaps you only have a couple options in that formula. Or maybe your Kanban board in Jira looks and interacts a lot more like Trello, and doesn't need to know business value for task unless necessary.
Naturally, this would mean that our software would be a lot bigger. However, taking Salesforce for example, already a massive system, it seems possible that a large majority of users would like a single interface that evolves with their business needs but begins much simpler. In fact, we know this is the case because of products like SalesforceIQ CRM.
Unlike Salesforce's divided software products (at least on the front end), I'd suggest a UI that is singular but varied.
Take a more basic example - this is a Drupal site, I've done Drupal development for years. I would love it if I could put a Drupal site in at least 3 modes - Tumblr-like, Wordpress-like, and finally full powered Drupal. The majority of your super admins in Drupal are typically looking for a strong product, but mainly use it for blogging. Yeah, I could create user roles and customize the experience - specialized content entry forms, menu navigation, and permissions grokking - but I'd love a switch and for the evolving UI to be a conceptual core to Drupal's interface.
Overall, I see three reasons that would push this concept into a mainstream software platform (most likely SaaS). First, a broad base of user types; second, an existing demand for complexity by a core base; third, strong stratification of user types. All you need from there is just to make the UI that works for your types, in the same way as Buckley describes in his article, we can clearly design for different age groups.
Sunday, February 7, 2016