"When Gruber first linked the TripLog/1040 UI by Stevens Creek, I wasn’t kind either. Bright colors, controls seemingly placed at random. It was the opposite of what designers strive for in our circles. A mess. Soon the Flickr page was a schoolyard of insults. And then something interesting happened. TripLog’s designer Steve Patt posted a comment amidst the bile to share the rationale behind his design. The many who chose not to listen to him won’t learn anything, but the rest of us may find fruit in Mr. Patt’s thoughtful explanation and twenty years of software experience.
The first charge against TripLog is “clutter,” that there’s too much on the screen at once. We’ll get to clutter, but first we have to talk about speed. Patt explains that the #1 purpose of TripLog is to help people track their deductible or reimbursable mileage. If people can’t enter their trips very quickly, the friction of entering data will overpower the motivation to track. For customers, untracked data means miles that aren’t reimbursed. So speed is Patt’s top priority.
What does speed have to do with clutter? I once saw Tufte give a workshop in Chicago where he introduced a valuable concept. He said information may be displayed adjacent in space or stacked in time. Take a book for example. If two dots are on the same spread, they are adjacent in space. All it takes to switch between them is movement of your eye. Compare that to a dot on one page stacked above a dot on another page. You can’t see them at once. You have to flip back and forth between pages to see one dot versus the other." (Continued via 37signals, James Wu) [Usability Resources]