As I’ve been thinking about the future of user interfaces, I stopped by the Web site of noted UI designer Bill Buxton. There I saw this remark:
A Personal Mantra: Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design are the "things" that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender, and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.
Right on, sir. I tell anyone who’ll listen (and many who won’t) about the "Photoshop Nation," the power of connecting people, and the importance of giving a damn and getting things right.
A small number multiplied by a big number is still a big number, and some little improvement* may help only a small percentage of users, but that works out to a large number of people. The social impact of doing so can be significant. (It all reminds me of Steve Jobs equating boot time improvements to lives saved.) It’s about not blocking the light.
Bonus quote, apropos of stirring things up on occasion: "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on
the unthinking." –John Maynard Keynes
* I was pleased to hear a photographer named Brian Price comment this week on the ProDIG list that "[F]or me the clone ‘Ignore Adjustment Layers’ option in CS3 is worth the
upgrade price in itself"–a comment echoed by others. It’s one of those tweaks that shows up rarely, if ever, in marketing materials, reviews, etc., but that can have a real impact.