IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY
Our world is infested with digital products. Even products we don’t think of as “digital” often have digital technology in them. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to make them work (at least for the manufacturers).
Digital technology can do anything. And that’s the problem. Products that include digital technology have become so complex, and often work in such obscure ways, that many ordinary users can’t fully understand them. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about personal computers, TVs or set-top boxes, phones, cameras and other personal devices, photocopiers, vending and ticket machines, scientific instruments, medical devices, measuring equipment, or services and websites we interact with on the net. Many are simply too hard-to-use.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. A few leading devices and websites have shown that powerful and attractive products can also be incredibly easy-to-use. And yet still most digital products are too confusing and hugely frustrating for their users. It’s time to fix that.
All sorts of approaches, methods and techniques have been suggested to solve this problem of interaction design, and many of them work. But if you look closely at hard-to-use digital products (they’re not hard to find), you’ll see they’re almost always missing one or more of just three key things. Taming the Turing Machine suggests that nearly all digital products could be made much easier-to-use by:
- Reducing the number of features in the product
- Introducing a strong mental model
- Paying attention to aesthetics
Of course, there are lots of other things that go into creating useful, valuable and easy-to-use products. But these three things lie at the heart of turning many digital products from things users dread interacting with, into things that can and really do provoke delight. You can do them, and your users will thank you for it – I promise!