Re: Interfaces vs. Concept

Replying to:

Well…this is hypocritical of me because I’ve already replied several times in that thread.

I guess after I’ve typed out my reply, I realized even as I was typing, it just wasn’t good enough as a reply and it further slithers away from the point of the thread.

I still often try to write out a reply but in this case, I felt this reply went away from what a culture or in this case two culture possibly wanted.

However in my latest reply, I felt now I was talking from a totally unknown end. I don’t know how to invent/develop or whatever the term is used for those who develop interfaces. I just have my hunch.

…and while earlier, maybe even as recent as last week, I wanted to actually post these replies directly as a form of random suggestion/discussion/desire/hope hybrid on how user interfaces/gadgets should look and feel to a casual user…I no longer feel it’s anything other than futile unless I can actually invent and show a concept.

I still want to share directly when an article or a website does something good but these kinds of abstract guessing…I concede. I can’t say my opinion is based on insight when in the end, I can’t even understand the basics of a programming language much less understand the blueprint of a technological product.

Part of the post, the person was replying to:

The appeal of the I-Pad is primarily in the concept. The user interface helps but it is hardly made up for by what the I-Pad actually is to consumers. Something new. Something cool. Something revolutionary.

Similarly, the I-Pod is not heralded as a popular mp3 player because people primarily oogled at the interface. They oogled at the scroll wheel more. They oogled at the culture who is so in love with the I-Pod.

Even the Iphone if you took away the availability of the app store, it was oogled not because of it’s interface which isn’t really that perfect but because of it’s touch screen capability mixed with a modern look that many phone companies at the time just weren’t focusing on.

The reply:

I find it interesting that you don’t consider the scroll wheel or the touch-screen interfaces. These are, indeed, a significant – perhaps the single most significant – factors that made these devices so popular as you pointed out, but if you note, these are the “User Interface”, aka. UI, elements that SB was talking about for their respective devices. You can say it is a concept if you like, but the concept is that of a better UI, not of some amorphic “feeling” you get because you have this feature.

The reply I didn’t send:

I don’t know if I belittled interfaces that much. (I didn’t really feel so and I thought as a whole my posts didn’t touch that subject)

It’s not so much that I don’t consider them but that from a user interface perspective, these aren’t enough to propel Apple products as killer apps/killer gadgets for their niche. This includes adding the Apple fanbase on top of it.

I don’t want to go into any prolonged discussion with this though as in the end, this is a case where I have to prove to myself that I at least have a pulse in understanding why saying interface isn’t enough and for me to do that, I have to be able to design and create an interface. I barely even know which one of those mini-wires go into which pin on the motherboard.

For the most part though, concept vs. interface is the sad nature of the consumer/user vs. designer/programmer disconnect.

It’s like even non-designer techies talking all about the Ribbon while the consumer are liking the “concept” of the OneNote.

Both are technically just interfaces but it’s the “amorphic” feeling that has drawn many users to OneNote and that same amorphic feeling was why I praised YeahWrite’s interface back then.

Yet, YeahWrite’s interface would not get it praised very much elsewhere even in tech forums but when combined with other aspects, it’s like the making of a Ratatouille movie and the amorphic feeling becomes the amorphic flavor despite the same look and concept not really being credited but the app itself being respected as such.

Apple’s products are like that but they also don’t immediately release their pulse when they strike lightning.

That allows them such things as frustrating yet gaining buyers with the Iphone 3g and I-pod Nano.

Meanwhile fanbases of consumer products like Cowon and Sony are left with wondering when Cowon will get back to the D3 as the hype dies down being replaced by a different hype from a different line of products and similarly Sony has a good habit of having something good but bungling it up like with the PSP where even the PSP3000 feels like a slap to it’s fanbase.

It’s sad but it can’t be helped. Eventually the designers who understand why design is just as much “user” interface as much as “amorphic feeling” becomes Apple-like even when their design can be horrid maybe even downright imperfect to many consumers.

The designers who focus on “user” interfaces, they play the dice and hope that their product is the best and most user friendly at that point in time ala a Kindle or a Palm for those who were enraptured by it.

Even then, it goes back to the concept and not the interface. You buy an e-book reader because you feel something for reading books. The interface is there just to help you cling to that feeling.

That said, there’s a difference though between the idea of an amorphic feeling from being in an Apple Store from actually acquiring a gadget. A 5 star restaurant maybe nice but that doesn’t mean Mcdonald’s is not the one with the better cult fanbase and brand.


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