Posts Tagged ‘Design’

The Successor’s Design

January 1st, 2011

Chris Clark has written a piece that offers an interesting perspective on some ideas I had explored in a post I wrote last year, called “Don’t Ask Me for My Email Address“.

Clark writes [emphasis mine]:

Email has grown gnarly in the decades past, as we’ve started receiving dozens or hundreds of spam and bacn messages a day. I have multiple server side rules and filters just to keep it in check, and an inbox policy of flagging anything I care about before running a slightly-modified version of John Gruber’s Inbox Sweeper to keep things tidy.

Reply-all gaffes, top-posting etiquette, plaintext versus HTML, attachment limits, inbox limits… everybody hits them. By comparison the simplicity and clarity of Facebook mail is impressive. A Facebook message requires (privacy controls pending) a symmetrically-acknowledged relationship between parties, and on top of that spam-murdering convenience it’s self-threading, low friction, and lightweight.

In a nutshell, Facebook is better than email unless you’re some kind of email expert. And for email’s successor to support all the expert features of email, none of its myriad problems would be solved.

It’s been a recurring theme this week, but the Pro users of yesteryear’s products, the people with the biggest investment in old technologies, are not the people who should be calling the shots in the design of their successors. These are the people who complain that an iPad can’t have third party software installed from anywhere but the App Store, ignoring the massive convenience and security gains the policy affords average users. These are the people who are still using slotted screwdrivers and Edison light fixtures and manual transmission cars.

I would specifically add that I find Clark’s argument that Facebook messaging improves upon e-mail only within the context of social communication; I find their messaging model incapable of replacing e-mail as a tool for work (email’s ability to run filters and rules, organize, and archive information comes a big workflow helper for email).

That having been said, however, maybe e-mail as a personal communications tool is for power users now (or, perhaps more aptly, once again).

My parting thought here isn’t to close your e-mail accounts and move to Facebook. Rather that – as we enter a new year, reminding ourselves to take fresh perspectives – is that it’s terribly easy to over-value past investments in our efforts build today what will stand tomorrow.

[Via Daring Fireball].

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Gruber on Mobile Phone Keyboards

July 7th, 2009

Gruber, writing about what he calls the Apple Way (emphasis added):

Are software touchscreen keyboards good for everyone? Certainly not. But this is another aspect of the Apple Way. Apple tries to make things that many people love, not things that all people like. The key is that they’re not afraid of the staunch criticism, and often outright derision, that comes with breaking conventions.


That the iPhone — or specifically its software touchscreen keyboard — does not appeal to everyone is not a problem. Nothing appeals to everyone. Even if you try to make something that appeals to everyone by adding every single clamored-for feature, you wind up with something like Windows that does not appeal to people with a taste for the elegant and refined.

And so Apple demonstrate mastery of yet another classic showmanship tactic: know your audience.

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Engaging With Limits

April 25th, 2009

John Gruber of Daring Fireball yesterday wrote about the incredible variety of UI solutions to be found in the various Twitter client apps.

From the post:

[T]hat it is not easy to write a good client for something as small in scope as Twitter hints at just how hard it is to write a good app for anything, let alone something truly complex.

I would add only that I feel like Twitter’s simplicity imposes a number of limitations upon developers, which — I believe — contributes in no small way to the diversity of these solutions; engaging with limits is the most powerful catalyst for creative brilliance.

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Designing Convertbots

April 2nd, 2009

The developers of the iPhone app Convertbot offer a glimpse into their design process. A gem for anyone about to create a new product:

… we needed to carefully decide what features directly supplement the core directive of the app and cut ideas that may have been “cool”, but removed focus.

Via Daring Fireball.

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