coryndon (at) luxmoore (dot) com
One problem that might cause logical and economical design (and one
that I often run into) is that the client will say "We're making this
too complex. Let's simplify it." They want to make the backend simpler
because they don't understand how the system works.
I imagine this happens to more folks than just me and is the cause of
a great deal of bad--er, logical and economical UI design.
I try to handle the situation by removing unnecessary folk from the
complex systems discussions--these are people who don't really need to
know how the system will work or who just don't care.
If that doesn't work, and I end up with some other folks in the
complex system discussions that don't need to be there, I explain
things twice. The first time I speak in very simple language; it
serves as a summary and overview for what I'm about to say, so the
developers appreciate it because they know what I'm going to talk
about and the manager hears just the level of detail that they care
about, so there's less chance that they'll jump in when we get down to
the nitty gritty. The second explaination--following quickly on the
heels of the overview and is for the developers and rest of the team.
I also make sure to summarize other people's complex statements so
that the manager can better understand. This technique doesn't always
work, but it does much of the time.
On 8/10/05, Coryndon Luxmoore <coryndon at luxmoore.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> Coryndon Luxmoore
> Interaction Designer
> coryndon (at) luxmoore (dot) com
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I completely agree with the author's basic arguments, but not
his semantics, which I believe seriously confuse several issues.
He seems to be equating "logical and economical" with "behaves
like a typical desktop computer UI". But most desktop interfaces,
with their hierarchical menus, filesystems, and tree-navigation of
functional objects, data objects, and decisions, are anything
but "elegant, economical, or simple" by any definition of those
terms I would care to use, especially in the context of CE products.
The argument that people don't want or appreciate "elegance" is
completely inside out. The problem is that many designers/developers
of CE gadgets don't understand the meaning of elegance, simplicity,
or logic when it comes to user experience, which is this: providing
a strong mapping to customer mental models, common behaviors, and
goals. The author (without coming out and saying so) calls
this "intuition", but he is falsely opposing this concept with
what he is calling "elegance" and "logic".
I believe that what the author is attempting to say is that
user mental models and behaviors need to define CE interfaces,
not an externally imposed logical structure that makes for
easy implementation or is some designer/developer's uninformed
(by user research) opinion of what he thinks makes sense. In
other words, products need to be designed around the *user's*
logic, not the developer's.
One final point seems to have eluded the author: that
most people don't use all the features of CE devices because
they are in fact not useful features for the target customer, and
have been added as a result of feature creep and checklist
parity. Time and again it has been demonstrated that a product
with fewer but well-targeted features that support user behaviors
and goals are perceived as better, more intuitive, and even
more powerful products than products which provide a large feature
set within a poorly targeted design.
Manager, User Interface Design and Research
Framingham, MA 01701
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Coryndon Luxmoore
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 8:32 AM
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: [ID Discuss] Good commentary on physical vs virtual interface
[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
Ah digital cameras vs. analogue a favourite usability question of
mine. Why is it digital cameras appear to be designed and made by the
people who make TV's, not the people who made cameras for 80 years?
Of course that isn't true but why is it the usability and evolution
of a good quality 35mm camera has not been reflected in the design of
digital cameras, esp. the middle market cameras which sell on
I can pick many weird usability choices but this is my favourite; on
top of many digital cameras is a dial, it selects the mode of
shooting. Then there is a power button, plus a selection for playback/
shooting. Why not have 'off', 'playback' and the shooting modes on
the dial and skip a whole bunch of buttons? In fact I am surprised at
how well an ipod on its side would function as the controls and
screen for a camera, even the analogue esq. controls like zoom can be
enhanced with the use of the touch sensitive scroll wheel...
The author of the article clearly has the thought something is wrong,
and can point to existing solutions for very similar parallel
technologies but misses the point as to _why_ these seem to be the
solutions. The issue isn't what people are/not familiar and to a
lesser extend feature creep. The issue is the activity the devices
appear to be designed for.
Digital cameras appear, to me at least, to be designed to capture
jpegs for use on a computer. That may seem the wrong thing to say
until you pull it apart. Digital cameras focus on one thing, that
users have all the benefits of digital media, the screen for
playback, the media/folder organising functions, edit/crop/cut/
delete. These devices are made for the activity of capturing 'files'
then manipulating these files in the same way we use computers. A
chemical based camera is designed with the activity of capturing
pictures, it only has one function and doesn't concern itself with
managing the captured media also. This apparent lack of focus on the
'correct' activity causes the issues the author raises.
When you examine a digital camera with the aim of capturing and
managing media files, many of the choices make more sense. I can
imagine a company like Sony put a lot of effort into the depth/
placement of the menus, but when you look at the heavy use of menus
with the goal of capturing pictures, it becomes very very obvious
things are not right.
I believe this is why the use of dials to control zoom/exposure etc
appear to make sense to the author, because zoom and exposure require
small sensitive adjustments, which are much much easier to achieve
with large dials than small switches/buttons/sliders. Again the use
of a multi purpose slider to both zoom and navigate some menu or
other function requires dual use and mostly likely some compromise in
the activity of capturing pictures.
John Evans <junk.3eyes at gmail.com> writes:
>Ah digital cameras vs. analogue a favourite usability question of
>mine. Why is it digital cameras appear to be designed and made by
>the people who make TV's, not the people who made cameras for 80
>years? Of course that isn't true but why is it the usability and
>evolution of a good quality 35mm camera has not been reflected in
>the design of digital cameras, esp. the middle market cameras which
>sell on 'features'.
I just bought a new mid/hi-range camera this weekend (for about $100
over the price of my first one, back in the days when 2 megapixel was
deemed impossible to achieve; it would now be below the low end of
what you can get at Best Buy, I imagine). One of the things I looked
at was wanting a camera that looked like a *camera*, not some weird
deck of cards. Something which felt comfortable in my hands.
(Note that my previous one was closer to the old Instamatic in size
and shape, so it's not like I've been using an SLR form factor for
>I can pick many weird usability choices but this is my favourite; on
>top of many digital cameras is a dial, it selects the mode of
>shooting. Then there is a power button, plus a selection for
>playback/shooting. Why not have 'off', 'playback' and the shooting
>modes on the dial and skip a whole bunch of buttons?
You wouldn't want Off as a dial switch: one wrong slip and you've
powered off in the middle of your shoot.
I found the dials on the camera I looked at positively crammed with
stuff. There are 14 items on this one's dial. Without looking up
meanings, for various lighting, distance, and action types of shots,
plus mystery items M, A, S, and P.
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 08/04)
While I certainly would not want to be characterized as an apologist for
digital camera designers and manufacturers, I would like to add that yet
another driver for the move from mechanical controls (such as aperature
rings), to digital controls (such as simple buttons and d-pads), is purely
economic. Complex mechanical controls cost more to engineer, manufacture,
On the other hand, Apple has had good success with substituting
touch-sesitive pads and "force feedback" (in the form of piezo 'clickers')
for expensive, unreliable mechanical controls.