The Best Interface Is No Interface

Golden Krishna, at Cooper writes:> As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul. The entire article is an excellent look at typical pedestrian interfaces that are seen these days versus interfaces that take great pains to anticipate the normal user behavior of a task and tries to solve it in the same way using a well designed interface.

Time and Taste

Marco Arment, at writes:

Improving poor taste in upper leadership is almost as difficult as treating severe paranoia: people who don’t value taste and design will rarely recognize these shortcomings or seek to improve them. With very few exceptions, companies that put out tasteless, poorly designed products will usually never change course. Anyone who wants to compete well against Apple is going to need good taste at the top and deep-rooted design values throughout the company.

Chris Prillo's Dad Compares Windows 8 to OS X

Chris Prillo, incensed that Microsoft's design for Windows 8 is hostile to new or novice users, tries to prove a point by videoing this father trying to use Windows 8 for the first time. Prior to this, he had only used Windows XP. A day later, he videoed this father doing the same, but for OS X. His dad is an iPhone and iPad user, but had never used an actual Mac. Watch:

Is Google Plus's Problem One of Design?

Nick Bilton, at The New York Times' Bits blog:

We skitter around the world with our smartphone cameras, taking pictures of leaves and sugar cubes and sunsets, then applying filters and making even the mundane look beautiful. Clearly, design is becoming increasingly more relevant to people. Google Plus doesn’t seem to understand that. Google’s iPhone app, for example, looks like a sketch that was never finished. And if you think the iPhone isn’t important for a good social network, just ask Instagram, an iPhone-only photo app that has more than 27 million users. That’s a quarter of Google Plus’s users, and Instagram didn’t need the Google homepage to get there.

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See

Seth Stevenson, writing for Slate:

American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore. Here is an example of part of the map, the state of Pennsylvania. Please avoid buying one of these for about 10 more minutes (just long enough for me to order my copy before they sell out).

Google Reader Redesign: Terrible Decision or Worst Decision?

Brian Shih, former Project Manager of Google Reader who left google back in July 11:

It's almost as if Google wants to demonstrate that, yes, they don't really get platforms. Instead of improving the G+ API to support Reader as a fully functional 3rd party client (a la Twitter), they've instead crippled the product under the guise of improvements.

Andy Rutledge Redesigns The New York Times

Andy Rutledge, in a post called "News Redux":

Digital news is broken. Actually, news itself is broken. Almost all news organizations have abandoned reporting in favor of editorial; have cultivated reader opinion in place of responsibility; and have traded ethical standards for misdirection and whatever consensus defines as forgivable. And this is before you even lay eyes on what passes for news design on a monitor or device screen these days.