You can’t always have what you want

This entertaining diagram that I saw on LinkedIn this morning touched a chord.

Interfaces

Like all good humour it makes a critical point, or perhaps even several points.

It certainly typifies different approaches. Apple’s fanatical insistence that anything can be achieved with a simple interface. Google’s equally fanatical insistence that everything can be achieved with a simple search interface. And the common application development teams resigned insistence that you can just throw all the data capture onto a page and call it a business application.

The thing is that often Apple (who routinely make things incredibly difficult by trying to make things too simple) and Google (who make things undiscoverable by finding everything) often overlook that fact that some business processes are actually complicated.
The Einstein Principle applies (http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?EinsteinPrinciple).

Simple interfaces are fantastic for simple needs. It is quite likely that an 80:20 rule applies and the majority of activities can be done with a couple different modes of interaction via a single button. But if you try to use a simple approach for complex things the user interaction problem / process becomes more complicated not less.

Powerful search is fantastic at finding things that are commonly found. It is quite likely that an 80:20 rule applies and the majority of searches discover what you need in the first page all so of results with a simple search. But if you try to use a simple search to find complex things findability suffers a new have to scroll through thousands of pages. Findability is different to search and often requires more sophistication and just pressing the Go button.

Equally, complex processes are often made more complicated to lazy, uninformed or misinterpreted user interface design. It is quite likely that the 80:20 rule applies and the majority of the technical functionality is be impressive but if the user experience is poor then the application is poor and the benefits are constrained.

The solution has to match the problem and not be driven by dogma.

We want simple, we want elegant, we want discoverable and we mostly don’t want what IT develop; but sometimes we can’t have everything that we want.

 

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Filed under Improvement, UI and UX

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