This image has been in my investor presentation for over a year.
Hrm. That seems like an odd place to put a barrier. It's not like there's a cliff to fall over.
It's from Peter Merholz, who also coined the word blog, about IA in at the turn of the century.
In a presentation I gave a long time ago on emergent information architecture, I used the first birdseye photo to demonstrate how people will take a planned design and modify it to fit their needs. In the face of this, designers have two choices -- allow the modification, or throw up obstacles...
In the 17th Century the streets of Boston were paved where cows worn trails.
Today, Peter points out that shit is too hard.
Objects aren't simple any more. They don't just turn or push. They behave. And these behaviors are often played out over many steps, in particular orders. And each step is an opportunity for failure. Through the work that my colleagues conducted on business value and user experience, I learned the six sigma concept of "rolled throughput yield."
The probability of being able to pass a unit of product or service through the entire process defect-free.
At the beginning of Peter's post I thought he was making a point against iteration. As each step that involves a person is prone to error. But he is making an argument for simplicity.
...Anyway, the nub of this wee rant is, of course, simplify. It feels like we're reaching a breaking point with new technologies -- if we thought the blinking "12:00" on the VCR was sad, what terrors can we expect? Think about the lesson of rolled throughput yield -- how can we minimize the steps involved? How can we enable people to plug something in and *just have it work*? How can we do a little more work on the design and engineering, so the customer has to do none on their own?
As tool makers, I'll assert there are five bad decisions we can make:
- Create false barriers
- Don't trust users to create
- Keep it complex and smart
- Pretend you are objective and don't make a statement
- Apply scorecards to your work instead of providing experiences