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What We Learned from Participants

  • KISS (Keep It Simple) was not attempted at first
  • Creativity may have worked against us
  • Stick to the requirements
  • "See" the Invisible Interface, thus. . .
  • Less Interface is more

For some reason we got really complex and "fancy" designs in the first design exercise. Many explanations are possible; participants really wanted a "big" design, or we did not tackle the "cost of implementation" issue, or it could have been that the creative "think out of the box exercise" really worked! Whatever the case, the workshop organizers felt the designs were over-designed for the web. Big complaints that we all hear about, like platform issues and download time, were probably not adequately addressed. On the other hand, the participants did show great creativity and some design elements were considered to be of stellar visual and interface design standards and we would certainly try to use them in a solution.

Our position of suggesting an "Invisible Interface" is that an interface should be out of the way from productive work and should help achieve work goals without adding overhead. Like the best waitperson who is always there when you need them, but not in your face - the interface should get you the "food" without a lot of fuss, so you can stick to your task at hand.

Another example of the "invisible interface" is the light switch found in most rooms. Your goal is to illuminate a dark room and the task only requires you to flick a switch. The workings of electricity, light switches, impedance, ohms law, and carbonized filaments are all transparent to you the user. Regardless of the light switch design or the light itself, it doesn't take you any time to learn how to illuminate a darkened room in someone else's house (except when something is awry! - which only strengthens the point of how transparent the interface is). We need to design our web sites with this in mind.

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Comments: Happily Received!
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Updated: 01.20.1998