So simple it’s state-of-the-art!

November 1, 2010

I continue to engage in some occasional consulting on interface design. Most recently, I encountered a challenge: a client was deploying a web site for an internal audience which, by the client’s own admission, didn’t know how to use their PCs well nor did they have much time to “figure out” an interface. The client’s expectations were, in short, for an interface so simple that users with no PC knowledge could quickly use it. At the same time, it needed to be “state-of-the-art.” Say again?

At one of my previous companies, our designers operated on the premise of “elegant simplicity,” so I know that having a simple interface make a striking and memorable impression is not impossible. But simple form is different from simple functionality. The users in question undoubtedly needed simple functionality because their computer skills were weak. Yet, there was a  simultaneous demand for “state-of-the-art” functionality — something cutting-edge, modern, and “next-generation” both visually and functionally. I was told both had equal priority. Something had to give. Read the rest of this entry »

Going mental: the day it all made sense

October 22, 2010

There have been a number of defining moments in my career, but for the purposes of this blog two stand out above the rest. The first was the day I, a computer novice, looked around at my colleagues and realized they considered me a computer expert. I remember thinking, “What in the world happened? Just a few years ago I was a complete newcomer. Why do I suddenly find myself being referenced as the expert?”  That realization started a chain reaction of self-analysis and tracking back through time to figure out why I had such a good grasp of computing technology while others still seemed to be “hunting and pecking.” And that led me the second big realization — the answer to my search: Read the rest of this entry »

The year in review: the state of (explaining) technology

August 17, 2009

As Explain Technology turns one year old, I thought it a great time to give a “State of Explaining Technology” address. What has changed in the technology space that affects the understanding of technology? How can those of us who seek to explain it learn how our models need to change? Where has there been improvement in technology design, allowing for easier adoption? Here’s a look back at several key areas… Read the rest of this entry »