Friday, April 28, 2006

In defence of beauty

Yesterday I had an epiphany during a Billy Hollis's Avalon presentation at my.Net user's group.

During the presentation he said something like the following (not a direct quote):

Pretty interfaces are important as the interface is the only thing the user sees

This may sound obvious, but until that time I had always relegated prettiness as a useless attribute of an interface.

For me a user interface had to be functional and usable. This is: it should allow the user to perform all the required tasks in a non intrusive, intuitive way. Having a nice color gradient or round buttons or pretty picture was only a “nice to have”

The extrapolation of Bill’s statement is that the only way a user has to evaluate the quality of an application is through the interface.

Here I have a close analogy. The average car owner will prefer, a functional car that looks awesome to a beaten up car with a perfectly tuned, supped up engine and perfectly balanced tires.

A car aficionado may prefer the beaten up car because he sees the beauty in the engine. The car does not run with the chassis.

In Linux we have the same attitude; we find the beauty in the engine. Many developers still finds prettiness as a distraction.

It’s great to see that some people are paying attention.
From now on, I will be sure to include prettiness in a close category to usefulness, not just as an afterthought “if time permits”.

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