Daily Archives: May 31, 2010

The Designer Lens

I view through world through many different lenses. I like thinking as a programmer or thinking as a philosopher or thinking as a… The list goes on. I wouldn’t call myself any type of designer, but as someone who has dabbled in web design, there’s a part of me that likes to look at the world through this lens. This person is especially obsessed with usability.

I confess that I have never seen nor touched an iPad, but it excites that part of my brain. The words in the commercials are revolutionary: “You already know how to use it.” It amazes me to think you could make a computer intuitive. They are awfully intimidating.

Because I do web design, it adheres to certain rules. Visitors are looking for specific things, and if they can’t find it, they leave. You’ve got seconds to catch them, if that. Web sites should not require training to use.

This has made me averse to any type of training. I think things should be usable. So when I hear about any type of issue and people say, “There needs to be more education,” I often think instead that the problem is in design.

This isn’t the best example, but let’s look at wasting energy. Do people need to be educated about turning lights off, computers off, TVs off? Lots of things suck up energy even when they aren’t being used. A plugged in TV draws power so it can be turned on quickly (evidently, we’re so impatient that we’d rather destroy the planet than wait an extra few seconds for the TV to turn on). We could complain about people… Or, TVs could automatically shut off all the way. Computers could turn off into going into standby.

There are bigger things, but I can’t remember them. Perhaps I can note them later on. That’s why this is a blog, not a book.

Anyway, sometimes this lens can be dangerous. Anyone can open a book, but it doesn’t mean they should be able to automatically understand what’s going on. I like the idea of laws being written in plain English and accessible to everyone, but that doesn’t mean they should be dumbed down. You might still have to study it. I don’t want laws to be like websites, where if you don’t get it in two seconds, it’s okay to leave. The iPad also locks out the user. [And I want to finish this later.]