Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Zen and the Art of IA

A review of Designing the Obvious ...

"New Web 2.0 interaction design can offer a lot of new suggestions for easier interactions, good use of white space and other glaring design solutions to the typically very busy space of information architecture. But, if you practice IA well, including some new Web 2.0 techniques, you can begin to create mental space as well as white space. Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, a new New Riders book by Robert Hoekman, Jr., is a great place to find out how much mental space can be offered by your systems.

We, the people, as users of these architectures, experience the downside of not having enough peace in the process of interacting with a poorly designed system. With almost a billion computers on earth and millions of unsatisfying interactions every minute, we are looking at massive amount of unintuitive interactions.

Where Are My Glasses?

Compare it with looking through a bag for a pair of glasses, while this might be one of the more frustrating moments of your entire day, it still has a logical conclusion, “glasses” or “no glasses.” The new reasoning here, when interacting with computers is that you have many other possible answers, finding the top half of the glasses, someone else’s glasses, things that think they are glasses, or having the bag just disappear on you.

If you lose your glasses, there aren’t many conclusions for outcome of this “scenario” in the real world. The glasses are either there or not. Within the computer the list is potentially unlimited, and most of the conclusions are mentally exhausting. Computers are tiring, constantly offering you options you don’t want and providing you with answers that don’t make any sense. More to the point, computers are designed to be complicated, much more complicated than a bag and glasses, hence, they aren’t designed to be obvious.

Web 2.0 UI for Dummies

In the current computer experience, there is a certain lack of “the design providing the answers,” something which is repeatedly addressed in Designing the Obvious, by Robert Hoekman, Jr. His bold use of language addresses not only the frustrations users experience in having an unrelaxed state of interaction, but also rightfully condemns the people behind these unhealthy and unintuitive user experiences. The book covers how to design a system that will tell the user if it has or doesn’t have “glasses” in it, and also how to prevent the computer from telling the user all sorts of other irrelevant information.

This book is very honest, amusing, straightforward, and extremely relevant. Besides providing strong a framework for designing more “obvious” applications, it also serves as a “Web 2.0 UI for Dummies” guidebook. Hoekman provides great Web 2.0 working examples, details what works about these new applications, discusses how they are successful, and explores what the people behind them have to say about their designs."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design

Recommended Book

Check-out more books at Usernomics.


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