Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things was an interesting book about the interaction between users and their everyday items. Perspectives from both a users and designer's point-of-view were presented regarding different designs and the reasons behind them. Issues regarding usability vs. aethestics were discussed and the author suggested a delicate balance must be kept for the user's sake. The book provided many interesting points that I otherwise would've never considered. Many examples such as the variety of keyboard layouts or door handles seems plausible but some examples seemed a bit extreme. The CD player remote example, in particular, struck me as odd. The hook at one end seemed like such a small and odd diversion that I would not have thought the user might get confused about. Someone in class pointed out that perhaps, the buttons on the controller might've been upside down, but was still hard to differentiate. Overall, I believe the author made some very good points and illustrated some very interesting design problems.

A UI that I like: Ipod Touch

A reason why I like the user interface of this particular device is that, ultimately, its simple. Physically the device only have 2 buttons. 1 on the front facade to activate the menu, and 1 on top of the device to turn it on and off. The rest of the controls are mapped virtually on the touch screen. By default, the ipod does not have as many icons as there are displayed in this picture. The controls are fairly intuitive and clearly labeled for ease of use. All the settings are in a icon labeled "settings" and to get back to the main menu from any other area, the user would simply just have to press that button on the front. The screen is clear allowing for great visibility even in sunlight. Feedback is provided through a noise that is heard each time an icon is clicked. Also with the button on the bottom of the device, users will not get confused as to which side is up. Inputs for the Ipod include an earphone jack and an usb jack, both of which are located on the bottom of the phone, which provides more natural clues to the user on how to properly hold the device. I know this device has recieved much praise for its design, but I believe its well-deserved. The price? Not so much.

1 comment:

  1. Apple certainly did design a good UI, I will give them that much, but I feel their products are way over hyped. Someone in a general computing course I was taking once asked what the difference between an MP3 player and an Ipod was. The answer is just marketing. Apple did not invent the MP3 player, far from it, they just made it an icon with marketing.

    Even though it is still just an MP3 player, once again, apple just uses it's marketing know-how to send it's products to the top.