New User Interfaces (UI): The developers are listening

14 03 2008

I’m sure you’ve all noticed how devices are continually improving their user interfaces (UI). I only need to refer to two of the current pioneers: Apple and Nintendo.

Notice how many owners feel a kind of attachment to their devices [insert Wii / iPhone / iTouch here] ?

It’s not weird really.

They’ve also spurned a bunch of imitations from competitors who quickly realise the power of enhanced UI. Look at the PS3’s tilt-sensing in their new controllers, Nokia and other’s new touch-interfaces on all of their phones.

I believe the success of these new devices is primarily three-fold (apart from the obvious fact that they’ve been launched by established, well-financed electronics developers).

Firstly, these things feel so much closer to the real-world. I move my Wiimote, Mario rolls along on his ball. (Don’t you dare ask how often I balance on top of a ball in the real-world). I flick through the iTouch artist list, and I feel as though I’m flipping through a real catalogue.

Secondly, the UI is so much easier to get started with. Throw the instruction manual out the window. (Well, don’t literally throw it). The UI is intuitive. I need to zoom in on the iPhone, pinch away. Geez, that was hard. Remember when the iPod came out? OK, so it was a market leader, but the easy interface made it pretty sweet over the competition. Look at the web. v2.0 also shows this simplification of interface design. Sites are now so much clearer and user choices are that much more simple. Thank bloody god.

Thirdly, and consequently, these devices feel more personal. Maybe my Wii feels more personal because i had to wait (it was well worth it). I think there’s more to it though. Because it reacts to my movements, I feel more like a participant and less like a puppeteer.  Even my friends who normally wouldn’t touch a computer game without a look of distaste firmly planted are getting into it.

Ever notice how well weighted the iPod / iTouch /iPhone are? They all feel solid. This isn’t by chance. Apple know that we interact with all of our senses, and that the sense of touch is part of the user experience. Solid and smooth intuitively tells me that the device i hold is a cut-above.

UIs are continually improving, and our $$ are teaching those developers what we want.

Let the good times roll.

Adobe CS3 interface design

19 01 2008

If you know me, then you know how important interfaces are to me.

I feel that a good user interface is like an easy-going mate, and as an Aussie, I value easy-going mates very highly.

And so, when I saw the slick, sweet UI in Adobe’s new Creative Suite 3, I stopped in my tracks. I can only speak in regards to Flash and Photoshop, but I’m fairly certain that the UI design is consistent across the entire suite.

If you’ve ever worked with the two aforementioned products, you’ll be familiar with panel layout and how frustrating it is working on anything less than dual monitors or a 24″ widescreen. But now, as I’m sitting at the trusty 17″ at work, i’m amazed at how they’ve cleaned up the space and made the panels as unobtrusive as possible. The way they close to those little icons in the side – beautiful.

Well done Adobe, you’ve put on your thinking cap and I’ve got an “Outstanding” sticker for your lunchbox.