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p_quarles
April 23rd, 2008, 09:57 PM
Wired's "Gadget Lab" blog has an interesting post from yesterday:

History's Five Best Interface Designs (http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/04/historys-five-b.html)

I think the list is a relatively insightful one, and since the "intuitiveness" of different interfaces is always a part of those endless "my favorite application is better than yours" debates, I thought it would be interesting to consider what actually makes something intuitive or not.

Thoughts?

y-lee
April 23rd, 2008, 11:20 PM
Wow the Model T transmission design was horrid. I know Henry Ford reported supported soybean and hemp technologies but I believe he might have been smoking the hemp when he thought of that.:lolflag:


The Model Tís transmission was controlled with three foot pedals and a lever that was mounted to the road side of the driverís seat. The throttle was controlled with a lever on the steering wheel.

And btw I used to have a cat that could open door knobs smartest cat I ever had. Goes to show how intuitive the knob is either that or my cat just paid alot of attention to the things people do :)

smoker
April 23rd, 2008, 11:57 PM
i have a microwave oven probably over 20 years old, it has two knobs, a mechanical timer - set the minutes, and a 'low' or 'high' setting control. so easy to use.

i can't stand the modern equivalents with an interface of a dozen touch pads, each with a host of settings, that you need a science degree to operate, just to heat some soup!

23meg
April 24th, 2008, 12:33 AM
Here's how not do design an oven interface:

http://mpt.net.nz/archive/2007/01/20/oven

smoker
April 24th, 2008, 12:42 AM
Here's how not do design an oven interface:

http://mpt.net.nz/archive/2007/01/20/oven

so true!
:lolflag:

koenn
April 24th, 2008, 07:24 PM
... what actually makes something intuitive or not.

Thoughts?

To quote a forum member's sig : "the only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned"
Most (in my opinion : all) of what we know "intuitively" comes down to conditioning and discoverability.

To illustrate this with an example from the OP's link :
A knob is a pretty straightforward, because all you can do is pull it, push it or turn it left and right - although "turn left means less, turn right means more" is completely arbitrary and has to be learned.

red_Marvin
April 24th, 2008, 09:23 PM
Here's how not do design an oven interface:
http://mpt.net.nz/archive/2007/01/20/oven

My parents' oven is like that, I'm the official arch-oven-clock-adjuster supreme when the electricity comes back after an outage (not that we have that many, so it's mostly a ceremonial title).
Ours is easier to set though, but the oven still refuses to work until the clock is set.

p_quarles
April 24th, 2008, 10:57 PM
To quote a forum member's sig : "the only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned"
Most (in my opinion : all) of what we know "intuitively" comes down to conditioning and discoverability.
Yeah, I had thought of billgoldberg's sig when I posted this. There is a great deal of truth to that.


To illustrate this with an example from the OP's link :
A knob is a pretty straightforward, because all you can do is pull it, push it or turn it left and right - although "turn left means less, turn right means more" is completely arbitrary and has to be learned.
Agreed. Every interface I can think of has a high ratio of arbitrary abstraction to indexical obviousness.

All the same, I think part of the writer's point in the link was that some interfaces give more human readable feedback. With a manual transmission, you can physically feel the gear clicking into place, as well as perceive the gear ratio almost immediately. With a volume knob, the fact that the volume increases when turned one way, and decreases when turned the other, makes learning how to use it very easy.

A distinction I'd like to throw in here is between interfaces that are both relatively intuitive and efficient (such as the volume knob), and those that are are relatively intuitive but less efficient compared to alternatives (such as the mouse). Another example would be something like Vi(m), which I think is a fantastic interface -- but isn't in the same universe of intuitiveness as the volume knob (or nipple).

popch
April 24th, 2008, 11:13 PM
The knob is actually - to my tastes - poorly designed. In my household all faucets close when turned clockwise, open when turned counter-clockwise. The amplifier 'closes the faucet' when turning clockwise. Much confusing for children and housewive.

The mouse appears to be very intuitive for nearly all people I know, with the exception of my wife. She had great difficulty just moving the cursor to the desired position on the screen. Clicking on anything was another kind of challenge.

Finally, I cracked the secret of why moving the cursor with a mouse should be so fiendishly difficult for a person of above-average dexterity.

The cause: My wife is a tailor. Sewing with a sewing machine involves moving the bits of cloth to sew under a stationary 'pointer', the needle. Hence, when moving the mouse she expected the cursor to remain stationary and the desktop or document within the window to follow the motion of the mouse on the table.

Once I had that straight, she could easily alter her perception of the mouse-cum-computer handling. After some training with a game of solitaire she now has no more difficulties using the mouse. And she can still operate all of her sewing machines.

SuperSon!c
April 24th, 2008, 11:29 PM
The knob is actually - to my tastes - poorly designed. In my household all faucets close when turned clockwise, open when turned counter-clockwise. The amplifier 'closes the faucet' when turning clockwise. Much confusing for children and housewive.



actually it makes sense, but the designers of faucets got it wrong. greater than ">" is to the right, which is clock-wise. if you want more, turn it to the right. "less", "off", or "closed" should be counter-clockwise.

Biochem
April 25th, 2008, 01:07 AM
but the oven still refuses to work until the clock is set.

I think those are a good idea. It prevent's forgetting about an open oven when there is a power failure. The electrician still cost less than finding your house on fire because you forgot about the diner while the power was out.

However, a Ph.D. in clock setting shoudn't be required to set the damn thing.

Mateo
April 25th, 2008, 02:35 AM
i can tell you how not to design a website interface.

1) No opening in a new browser window, ever. The user gets to decide where links open, not designers.

2) No embedded java apps. Ever. This isn't 1999. Use Ajax. Or if you ask real nicely and give proper warnings, flash is fine.

3) Do not block my right-click. It's not going to stop someone from seeing your html. Give up.

4) No animated gifs. Ever. This is non-negotiable.

5) No background music. See above.

cardinals_fan
April 25th, 2008, 02:41 AM
A distinction I'd like to throw in here is between interfaces that are both relatively intuitive and efficient (such as the volume knob), and those that are are relatively intuitive but less efficient compared to alternatives (such as the mouse). Another example would be something like Vi(m), which I think is a fantastic interface -- but isn't in the same universe of intuitiveness as the volume knob (or nipple).
I define intuitiveness as the amount of time it takes to learn a process - and Vim was very fast for me.

@Mateo: Great guidelines!

macogw
April 25th, 2008, 03:36 AM
To quote a forum member's sig : "the only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned"
A new mother tells me that even that isn't intuitive. Her baby daughter keeps sucking at the wrong parts of her breast!

My justification for GNOME > KDE is that KDE apps have cluttered layouts in the settings department which make it feel overwhelming even when there aren't really *that* many things to answer.

macogw
April 25th, 2008, 03:38 AM
actually it makes sense, but the designers of faucets got it wrong. greater than ">" is to the right, which is clock-wise. if you want more, turn it to the right. "less", "off", or "closed" should be counter-clockwise.

Er...that's wrong. Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty. Turn left to loosen, right to tighten. When you loosen the seal, the water goes through.

SuperSon!c
April 25th, 2008, 08:26 AM
right, what i mean is, they should have done it the other way around, like a volume knob.

popch
April 25th, 2008, 08:37 AM
right, what i mean is, they should have done it the other way around, like a volume knob.

Let's start a flame war, shall we?

Faucets were first here. Most faucets I know use a screw to press a lid on an aperture. Most people in the Old World (where faucets were invented) are right handed, they can exert more force when turning the screw clockwise. The main problem with faucets is not that they won't open but that they won't properly shut. A dripping faucet is annoying and wastes a surprising amount of water.

And the number of people who have a general idea if on how to operate a faucet or even actual experience > the number of people who can properly apply the '>' sign.

As can be seen (or rather heard) from experience, the people most bound to know how to apply the '>' sign are those least apt to properly use the volume control on their ghetto blasters and such.

:lolflag:

SuperSon!c
April 25th, 2008, 09:31 AM
would you like me to let go of the leash?

popch
April 25th, 2008, 10:13 AM
would you like me to let go of the leash?

Um, well, if that's the way you see it - nice doggy, there, there - I also can see some kind of sense in using the other direction

aimran
April 25th, 2008, 10:35 AM
actually it makes sense, but the designers of faucets got it wrong. greater than ">" is to the right, which is clock-wise. if you want more, turn it to the right. "less", "off", or "closed" should be counter-clockwise.

Righty tighty lefty loosy?

SuperSon!c
April 25th, 2008, 12:08 PM
Um, well, if that's the way you see it - nice doggy, there, there - I also can see some kind of sense in using the other direction

then perhaps you should get that finger out of your eye.

SuperSon!c
April 25th, 2008, 12:09 PM
Righty tighty lefty loosy?

turning a volume knob counterclockwise to raise db's would seem strange.

billgoldberg
April 25th, 2008, 12:54 PM
Wired's "Gadget Lab" blog has an interesting post from yesterday:

History's Five Best Interface Designs (http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/04/historys-five-b.html)

I think the list is a relatively insightful one, and since the "intuitiveness" of different interfaces is always a part of those endless "my favorite application is better than yours" debates, I thought it would be interesting to consider what actually makes something intuitive or not.

Thoughts?

I think my sig says it all.

popch
April 25th, 2008, 12:59 PM
then perhaps you should get that finger out of your eye.

I have my fingers where anyone can see them, in ter face. Where are yours, if you please?

@billy: your sig has been mentioned in this thread, I believe. Someone even questioned if the first interface was all that intuitive. Don't ask me, though, that's a long time ago.

SuperSon!c
April 25th, 2008, 01:07 PM
atm, on the k/b. not sure what you're typing with and don't care to know.