A Thing IS How We Use It

A Thing IS How We Use It

The scientific perspective: A thing is the composition of its component parts.

The consciousness perspective: A thing is an interconnected web of relationships, and you are perceiving especially how it relates to you.

You don't see the underlying software. You don't even see the buttons and UI. You see: A way to find a recipe (for instance).

The better a software product conforms to, enables, and empowers that intended use, the more useful it is.

And a thing is primarily seen as something to be used, not something to be passively enjoyed or delighted by.

Usability, and user-friendliness, far from being some intro 101 stuff that UX Designers get started with and then move on to bigger and better things, is the fundamental principle. It must manifest at all levels, from top to bottom. We must always be asking ourselves: Is this thing I'm making as useful as it might be? Could it be more useful?

If any sacrifice is made of usability, then the product team elevates themselves above the person using it.

Now of course there might be tradeoffs between feasibility, viability, and usability.

And there might even be tradeoffs of usability for one person versus another: a new customer versus a super-user for instance.

But we should never trade off usability for something so arbitrary as aesthetic value.

Need I mention Craigslist?

Besides, are there any web sites or apps you use where you think: This is eminently aesthetically pleasing.

No, a screen is a poor medium. It might temporarily provoke wonder or delight, but I enjoy something with texture, like paint or wood.

Do you hang a screen on your wall as art for guests to enjoy? Then your users probably aren't basking in the glow of your digital creation either.

Use a screen for what it's good at, presenting information quickly to be understood and acted on.