iPod Interface - great, not perfect...

Leander Kahney in Wired points out three "quibbles" in the iPod interface; he nails them pretty well, actually. He provides lots of detail, and very good reasoning behind them. No doubt the iPod's excellent interface is an important reason for its success, and it's telling that these are such nuanced and minor quirks - in a more poorly designed interface, stuff like this would be overshadowed by the desperate bewilderment of frustrated users! But it's not perfect, three of the reasons why are...

1) "Menus scroll the wrong way... they scroll sideways, when they should scroll up and down." This goes to spacial mapping of the controllers to the controlled - or vice versa, in the flexible world of GUI. Spacially mapped controls - for example, where the burner dials for a stove are arranged in the same layout as the burners themselves - will always be more intuitive and require less labeling.

2) "No menu wrapping... why aren't they wrapped in a never-ending loop?" Instead of an intuition issue like the previous one, this is a convenience issue. In fact, this would be sacrificing a tiny bit of intuitive design (the menu list having "ends" on the top and bottom "grounds" the list in the user's perception) for a whole lot of convenience. And especially since iPod users are only briefly new users and then forever after experienced users, this is a good tradeoff.

3) "No Autofill for bigger iPods." Not user experience, but both a convenience and a feature-set issue. The kind of thing you learn by talking to real users, watching real users, getting in their minds - good old-fashioned needfinding!

The article: Wired - Three Little Quibbles About the iPod - Leander Kahney

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