Linked by Julian Fietkau on Fri 11th Mar 2011 09:55 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Over the past few decades, the software that enables us to be productive with our computers has become increasingly sophisticated and complex. Today's UI designers are faced with the challenge of devising graphical user interfaces that are easy to grasp and use, yet still provide access to a wide range of features. Here are some ideas about the nature of GUI complexity, followed by a couple of thoughts on simplicity that might just surprise you.
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JulianFietkau
Member since:
2005-07-07

Some of those are pretty fundamental questions and I don't know if I would be able to answer them with a featured article, but I'll just try it right here:

With Don Norman's definition of complexity in mind, I'd say that the mouse has a rather low intrinsic complexity compared to the keyboard. It allows us to move something (a cursor, most of the time) around on the 2D plane, and to "click" to induce an action, and that's pretty much it. In contrast, the keyboard offers dozens of discrete possibilities for input, hundreds if you count every possible key combination using Ctrl, Shift or Alt.

Assuming that geeks are people who use their computers often, it seems obvious that they'd be looking for ways to speed up repetitive tasks. The keyboard is a great way to speed things up, because you have the aforementioned hundreds of ways to instantly tell the computer to do something. Every geek realizes at some point in their life that it is much faster to press Ctrl+X than to navigate the mouse to "Edit", click, navigate down to "Cut" and click again.

If it's faster, why doesn't everyone do it this way? Because keyboard combinations, just like the commands in any CLI, need to be memorized to be used, and that's not a priority for non-geeks. They use the mouse because that way the feature is discoverable. The mouse has, by virtue of its limitied possibilities for interaction, broken down the complex task of hitting exactly the right two keys on your keaboard to a sequence of simpler steps: moving the mouse, clicking, and then moving and clicking some more. What's noteworthy about this, is that precisely because it consists of several steps and takes longer to do, the user can get feedback along the way (visual or otherwise) and thus can check if the procedure is going as planned. For people who don't use their computers as often or don't feel as confident using them, the speed loss is an acceptable tradeoff.

Does that answer some of your questions? ;) I have a feeling you've had quite a few own thoughts on this, and I also think you're overestimating me. ;)

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