• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Interfaces and Usability

    November 2nd, 2005
    tech  [html]
    Some general thoughts about user interfaces and usability, modified from a post I made on Slashdot in the interest of not having to explain views all over again:
    Macs are nice. Macs are pretty. Macs are intuitive, easy to learn, and allow you to configure things without learning much about them. All good for some people. The question is, which people? Perhaps the casual home user who just wants a computer to check email and browse the web? For anyone who uses a computer a decent amount, it is worth the effort to learn some unintuitive but powerful programs. LaTeX with emacs would be a good example, in that you do need to go read some manuals, but once you start using them it becomes so much faster and they are so much more adaptable than standard GUI word processors. I use my computer every day. I rely on it for most of my work. As such, the initial experience and the amount of work that goes into learning how to use it effectively are very minor concerns compared to the benefit of being able to work faster, more efficiently, and with less UI sillyness. That OS X is intuitive and pretty is pleasant, but no real help in getting my work done.
    This applies equally to Windows, really, with the exception that I think Apple does a better job at creating this sort of interface than Microsoft. There are Linux distributions, such as Linspire that also do this. But I think they all miss the idea that computer use should be about getting work done quickly and conveniently, and that the initial capabilities of a person who has not really learned the system are not all that important.

    Computer-human interface is not yet anywhere near perfected. We have at least two powerful and mature systems in the GUI and terminal, and both remain severely limited. Programmers focus on making GUIs look pretty and not on using the extra interface flexibility to better communicate information. Terminal-based programs have very little flexibility in their display, yet they are often much faster than GUI programs at getting information across.

    Comment via: facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    More on the Deutschlandtakt

    The Deutschlandtakt plans are out now. They cover investment through 2040, but even beforehand, there’s a plan for something like a national integrated timetable by 2030, with trains connecting the major cities every 30 minutes rather than hourly. But the…

    via Pedestrian Observations July 1, 2020

    How do cars fare in crash tests they're not specifically optimized for?

    Any time you have a benchmark that gets taken seriously, some people will start gaming the benchmark. Some famous examples in computing are the CPU benchmark specfp and video game benchmarks. With specfp, Sun managed to increase its score on 179.art (a su…

    via Posts on Dan Luu June 30, 2020

    Quick note on the name of this blog

    When I was 21 a friend introduced me to a volume of poems by the 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. I loved them, and eventually named this blog for one of my favorite ones. At some point I read more and found that Ladinsky’s …

    via The whole sky June 21, 2020

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact