Thursday, March 30, 2006

Palm got it Right Ten Years Ago. So Why are we Still Suffering?

Thoughts on how hardware contraints can lead to an efficient, "less is more" interface...

"Ten years ago this week, Palm Computing debuted the Pilot 1000. 1996 seems like eons ago, but the major PDA market has been around for a very short amount of time, really. The primitiveness of that first machine is striking today; but what is even more striking is how the limitations of its hardware made it easier to use. It is a supreme example of constraints leading to superior creativity and execution.

Today even our cellphones have more computing power and graphics capability than those first Palms. In part, I think the relative lack of constraints on our cellphone designers have led them to become sloppy with their design choices, leading to products that are harder, less efficient, and more confusing to use. The designers are not doing their editorial duties. How many clicks, for example, does it take to edit an address book entry on your cellpone?

In the book Information Appliances and Beyond, author Eric Bergman interviews Rob Haitani. Haitani was the software architect at Palm and designed the Pilot’s OS and applications, and then followed Palm founder Jeff Hawkins to Handspring. This is one of the single best essays on UI and experience design that I’ve ever read - I return to it on a regular basis as a refresher. (There are several other excellent essays in this book, I highly recommend it overll. In particular the article about the development of the Psion PDA OS is also outstanding.) I’m going to quote a few things from the Haitani interview here (and hope that Bergman and Haitani don’t mind!)."   continued ...   (Via Adam Richardson)

Hardware limitations led to smart UI design. - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

Hardware limitations led to smart UI design


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