Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Designing Interactions: Chapter 3 - From the Desk to the Palm

Bill Moggridge

Moggridge, B. (2006) Designing Interactions, MIT Press, pp 155-235.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it!" Xerox PARC credo

Chapter 3

In this chapter the development of interaction design for mobile use is explored. In doing so human cognitive facility is explored by Alan Kay of Xerox Parc. He believes that once designers realised that users have functioning minds true interface design began.

He sees this human cognitive facility as comprising of three mentalities:

  • a doing mentality;
  • an image mentality;
  • a symbolic mentality.
Good user interface design should integrate all three mentalities.

Kay also observes that designers learn by doing.

Later in this chapter Jeff Hawkins from Palm makes an interesting observation on working digitally. He raises the point that working digitally means not trying to capture the paperness of paper.

Rob Haitani of PalmOne, believes in putting people first. In developing the user interface for Palm he used a zen approach resulting in four guidelines to design:

  • Less is more;
  • Avoid adding features;
  • Strive for fewer steps;
  • Simplicity is better than complexity.

He sums this up as: "If you look at it intuitively and ask what you do more frequently, some of these decisions just naturally bubble up to the top. It all depends on understanding your customers, but not on a very complex level."

Hawkins finishes the chapter off with an observation that reflects Kay's own observation on human cognitive facilities. "Brains like familiarity, but they get bored. They are genetically programmed to want to discover new patterns. You don't want it too new because that seems dangerous. You want it somewhat familiar and somewhat new. (…) You want newness combined with cleverness."

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