Sunday, January 27, 2008

Interface design and the iPhone

Edward Tufte on the iPhone from UI work done in 1997 ...

"The iPhone platform elegantly solves the design problem of small screens by greatly intensifying the information resolution of each displayed page. Small screens, as on traditional cell phones, show very little information per screen, which in turn leads to deep hierarchies of stacked-up thin information--too often leaving users with "Where am I?" puzzles. Better to have users looking over material adjacent in space rather than stacked in time.

To do so requires increasing the information resolution of the screen by the hardware (higher resolution screens) and by screen design (eliminating screen-hogging computer administrative debris, and distributing information adjacent in space).

This video shows some of the resolution-enhancing methods of the iPhone, along with a few places for improvements in resolution.

View video (This is a 56mb file, with many people simultaneously trying to view. It might take a while to load. We were slashdotted. The video is essential to the essay as is the still-land material below.)

In 1994-1995 I designed (while consulting for IBM) screen mock-ups for navigating through the National Gallery via information kiosks. (The National Gallery had the good sense not to adopt the proposal.) For several years these screen designs were handouts in the one-day course in my discussion of interface design, and were then published in my book Visual Explanations (1997).

The design ideas here include high-resolution touch-screens; minimizing computer admin debris; spatial distribution of information rather than temporal stacking; complete integration of text, images, and live video; a flat non-hierarchical interface; and replacing spacious icons with tight words. The metaphor for the interface is the information. Thus the iPhone got it mostly right."    (Continued via InfoDesign, Ask E.T., Edward Tufte)    [Usability Resources]

Flemish Museum - Usability, User Interface Design

Flemish Museum


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