Familiar Is Not a Design


Reflecting upon the recently revealed Quasar app for jailbroken iPads, Matt Gemmell has written an article dripping with importance regarding design. Matt writes:

Unconsidered design (or lack of design) tends to simply gravitate towards the familiar, which is a natural instinct when we’re lost in some way. The desktop windowing metaphor is familiar from older computing devices… and that’s all. Its suitability to the iPad’s form factor, usage scenarios, and current app interaction models was not considered. It introduces additional frames of interaction and cognitive load, and disregards the interaction heritage and environment of the platform.

Quasar was not designed, but rather only implemented. It’s the classic outcome of closed, engineer-based thinking.

Experiences should be designed. If your interface will be used by humans, you need to design it for humans. Familiarity may well be a factor to consider in that design, but it’s by no means the only one - and it’s almost always trumped by context.

All users of technology have a vested interest in the integrity and accessibility of experiential design. Although experimentation is certainly valuable, Matt has struck upon an endlessly important note in a characteristically well-written manner.

Read the original in its entirety.