Meta Refresh 2013

India,Bangalore, Feb 2013

Designers think about the fine details of stuff, so that users don’t have to worry about them.

— Adapted from The Genius of Design: Ghosts in the Machine

Creators — be it designers or business owners — build tools that make it simpler for people to do a job. Every tool has two sides: one that does the job, and another that exposes an interface to users. It is our responsibility to maintain a gap between the two so that users are not hassled by the complexities involved in the task.

At Meta Refresh 2013, I gave a talk to highlight the problem of unnecessarily exposing implementation details to users. Little details that are easily overlooked while worrying about the larger scheme of things, e.g. URLs, button labels, error messages, etc. Sometimes we build a solution that simply passes on the problem to users.

We’re not just fairly competent at designing systems but also extremely competent at using them. Clearly we differ from our users. This often limits our ability to recognise goof ups. We need to constantly question the effectiveness of our decisions to ensure that our designs are meaningful for users.