Mesh networking, the Internet of Things (IoT), pervasive computing – these are all threads in the fabric of our everyday (near future) lives.
Google provides superb machine-learning. Apple contributes gorgeous devices and (relatively) seamless user-centric experiences. Companies like Dropbox, Amazon and, intriguingly, Upthere offer unlimited, always-available storage.
But we don’t yet have the software or the infrastructure that knits everything together.
This is such a thrilling time to be working toward building interoperable, cohesive, compelling experiences for myself, my friends, my family, my community.
As an actor, the most powerful question to ask oneself is “what does my character want?” Every subsequent choice the character makes flows from the answer. If an actor is lost in a scene, returning to this question will quickly focus one’s performance on something specific and vital.
The same guiding question applies to finding a new job, working with clients, negotiation and sales or product development. Knowing what a client or customer wants focusses everything that follows on making a genuinely useful and commercially successful product. Muddled decisions that delight no one and frustrate everyone result from not clearly understanding what one wants.
User-centred design returns again and again to “what does the user want?” To orient myself when reviewing a wireframe, design or piece of development, I chose a persona, “get into character” and ask myself as the user "what do I want?“ Everything – decisions about the onboarding flow, the placement of widgets and controls, the most relevant data to visualise, everything – starts there.
Do you know what you want – and do you know what your customers want?
Love these frog design Apple prototypes using the old “Snow White” design language. Some of these have been kicking around for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve seen some of the iMac models before. Fascinating stuff.
Early Apple computer designs
This piece by Golden Krishna gets at exactly why we use technology. For a piece of tech to be useful, it must help me accomplish tasks or create things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to accomplish or create.
Krishna’s survey of digital user interfaces from the past forty years pinpoints exactly what 99% of devices frustrate the hell out of me – their attempts to simplify only serve to confuse. Using a pre-iPhone mobile was like trying to communicate with someone who insisted on speaking a very technical dialect of English, but delivered in “goo goo, ga ga” baby-talk.
There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.
Principle 1: Eliminate interfaces to embrace natural processes …
The best interface is no interface