Wed, 10 Dec 2003 18:15:12 GMT

User Interface Hierarchies.

Russell Beattie writes:

I'm looking at user interfaces more recently. Online, on my desktop and on my gadgets and I'm taken aback by their complexity. But I've had an epiphany about their underlying structure that I wanted to try to express here.

Is there a reason for the icons and the buttons and the menus and the tabs and the list boxes and all the other GUI crap that we have to deal with both on a computer and increasingly on our mobile devices as well? I honestly don't know. I personally think less is more when it comes to user interface design.

Maybe it's just me, but I think in hierarchies and outlines. Even if I don't always use my outliner for everything, I still organize my documents like that, and the text within those documents are usually indented as well.

What's my point? That we need to do like Apple did with the iPod and review how our UIs work. We need less widgets, not more. We need more than simplicity, we need consistency. And since *all* data is a hierarchy, using that as a base for all UI elements would be a good thing. Teach a newbie: “This is how a hierarchy works. Now, anytime you need to find or edit information – whether it's the MP3 you want to play or the settings on your phone, now you'll know how.”

It doesn't make sense any more. Now that we're all comfortable with the idea of computers and the mouse, we don't need “buttons” and “gauges” and “files” and “tabs” and all that crap that are analogies to real things. They're not real things – it's just data.

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