Monday, December 08, 2008

Why Apple is great at interfaces when others are not

The principle of pleasure ...

"I was re-reading Insanely Great, by Steven Levy, the story of how the Macintosh came to be, and I was struck by one paragraph in particular. It was describing how the general look and feel of the original Mac interface was decided upon.

Rather than survey a bunch of users on every decision, the Mac team decided each issue among themselves, invariably going for the option that might amuse a user the most, that would give a user the most pleasure, and therefore imbue the Mac with personality.

That Apple thinking is still apparent: it's why the Mac metaphorically shakes its head at you when you get a password wrong. Similarly it's why the iPhone's icons wobble when you want to uninstall something.

Did anyone at Microsoft think of pleasure when designing Vista's awful UAC? Did anyone at Virgin (well, NTL really) think of pleasure when designing the clunky interface of the V+ box compared to the elegant simplicity of Sky+? Did anyone at anywhere think about pleasure when designing old mobile phone interfaces, a kludge of menus, scrolling, button pressing and nested icons? No wonder Nokia decided to start again.

It is not just enough to make using something easy. Windows does that, more or less. When it comes to deciding what choices to make, it helps that a team has a supremely clear vision of the role the technology is going to play in the lives of its users, as the original Mac team did, as I suspect, the iPhone team does today, and to be fair to Microsoft, the Surface team has.

Fun matters because it creates a legion of advocates for a technology that slightly duller products do not."    (Continued via TechRadar UK)    [Usability Resources]


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