Intuitive – alas no

The new Windows 8 Metro interface has drawn praise and scorn in almost equal measure. Widely hailed as an innovative and imaginative departure from established paradigm when used on tablets, it has been roundly condemned when put to use within the PC desktop environment; an environment in which the touch interface seems innately less appropriate. By way of contrast, the Apple OSX interface is commonly held - not least by Apple themselves  - to be an interface of such intuitive simplicity ('it simply works') that the claim has almost gained acceptance as a simple given. A position that I happen to hold on the issue of the 'intuitive interface' is that there is as good as no such thing in real, practical terms. There may a slightly stronger case for…
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Even less intuitive

creative thinking
In a previous post I opined, more or less, that in design specialisms such as interface design, for example, any quest for some sort of universally intuitive solution is unequivocally doomed to failure. The reason for this, I argued, is that before any user of interface-driven devices  can get to grips with them they must, of necessity, call upon techniques, schemas and processes that they've learned, acquired or become familiar with in past engagements with similar - or even not so similar - devices. In short, users call upon experience and familiarity when faced with new interface challenges; intuition - "the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason [1]"  - has no part to play in the process at all. Should past experience be of no use…
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How touching

In the world of computer interfacing, touch screens have been around for yonks. The mass uptake of smartphones and tablets has in no small part been due to the brilliance and efficacy of the touch screens as applied to these particular form factors and the ability to directly engage with content and the interface by intuitive finger swiping actions as against other more traditional means such as the keyboard, mouse of stylus is demonstrably better. Set against this ergonomic efficacy, of course, are a couple of trade-offs that consumers seem content to put up with. Both centre on the ubiquitous shiny, highly reflective screens that mean using such devices under bright lighting conditions - as on a sunny day, for instance - is near impossible and, to compound matters, the…
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