Why Familiar Makes for Poor Design

Posted on May 7, 2012

Matt Gemmell has written a fine article examining the idea of having apps in windows on an iPad. His broader case is that design needs to fit to the use-cases it will support:

[quote cite=”Matt Gemmell”]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. [/quote] [quote cite=”Matt Gemmell”]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.[/quote]

At Digital Possibilities we embrace this idea whole heartidly. Many bad applications are bad not because of the coding, but because the design was badly thought-out from poor user story definition.

Hence there is this clear line where a good deal of reflection is required to drive good design, but also taking into account the basic knowledge and conventions of the target audience. Being too original is a bad thing as you create barriers to use, but just using what’s familiar may no longer work in the mobile world.

Mobile Design = New Conventions + New Use Cases