Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Steve Jobs at war against the buttons

How many buttons does your TV remote control have? And your VCR remote control? Your micro-wave? Cell-phone? Computer keyboard? PDA? Your car? The cockpit of a Boeing 747? The space shuttle? The control room of an old nuclear plant?
Many, many buttons.
One man spent his whole life fighting against the proliferation of buttons. His name is Steve Jobs and he created the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iMac among many other innovative products. He co-founded the Apple company. Steve Jobs dislikes buttons so much he never wears a shirt with buttons.
Take a device - a remote for example. What do you use it for most of the time? Which functions do you need? Are they easy to perform? Could you use larger and more visible buttons for the most important uses and remove the buttons you never need? Which color, shape, size and location should the buttons have? Can blind people recognize them (shape, surface feeling, location)? Do the buttons fit both children with small hands and Japanese sumos with very large fingers?
Answering these questions makes you a user interface specialist. It is a fascinating task. Adding buttons to add new functions is an easy, unimaginative solution. Too many buttons will confuse beginners doing simple things. Sometimes more is less explains Barry Schwartz at a Google technical talk.

No comments: