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Reading: The Humane Interface

Shop at Amazon.comJef Raskin was the man responsible for the Macintosh. I stumbled on his website a couple of days ago and read about his explorations on Interface Design. Intrigued about THE (The Humane Environment), a new paradigm for interaction with the computer. Interestingly enough, I haven’t been able to see THE yet - the screenshot image is not showing, and THE only runs on Mac’s. But I was intrigued and ordered the book. It came, I read and I learned. Raskin talks about consciousness and non-consciousness when using interfaces, locus and focus, modality and so on. He has a deep understanding and knowledge of the subject, his theses are supported by empiric studies. And he’s able to bring across so many important points in interface design in an easy to grasp manner.

I’m rethinking the way my applications work and present themselfs to the user. I have started on redesigning an application I recently deployed on a corporate intranet. I am (was) rather proud of the app - lot’s of clever dialog boxes that pop up, looking like normal windows dialogs. (Shamelessly being inspired by Oddpost and Convea.

Now I’m thinking about making the process of working with the data easier and more humane. The first experiments look promising, removing the popups, making the app look and feel more like a dynamic webpage, removing modality (if you have the right to edit a document, you will always open it in edit mode. If not, you get read access). That saves at least one click. I plan on removing the SAVE button, letting the application save changes automatically.

After a lot of UI and usabiltiy books I’ve read, this is the first book that really started to make me think deeper… Trying to discover how my applications would become more “humane” and easier to use. I’m going to develop my ideas a bit more and then test it on the unsuspecting users.

Anyway: Highly recommended reading for everybody that writes applications that are going to be used by non-geek users.

The Humane Interface: New Directions for … (Amazon.com) The Humane Interface. New Directions for … (Amazon.de)

Jens-Christian Fischer

Maker. Musician