"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

"To Clarify, Add Detail" – Edward Tufte’s Review of the iPhone

Posted: February 1st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Interaction Design | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Edward Tufte, information design master, has released an insightful and educational video review of the iPhone on his website. It’s a large movie shot in clear, Apple style black background with Tufte talking through his observations as he goes. Delivered in calm, soothing tones are such wonderful phrases such as “To clarify, add detail” and “Clutter and overload are not an attribute of information, they are a failure of design”.

Tufte has a high regard for the iPhone’s high resolution (163dpi) screen as well as how Apple have removed “computer administrative debris” to ensure “the information is the interface” with direct interactions by humans on the content, not via buttons – or at least with transparent controls where necessary. Where he’s not so impressed is with the “strong colours and zebra stripes, but not much information” on the stocks page – suggesting that instead of the “cartoon/Excel resolution” Apple could employ their “image level resolution” to let people zoom in and out of complex, informative displays. Similarly for the weather page shown above.

Aside from these few suggestions for information design improvement Tufte seems to like the iPhone – to quote; “If the information is in chaos don’t start throwing out information, instead fix the design – and that is exactly what the iPhone has done.” Go watch the video and learn from a master.

Ideas that spread, win

Posted: June 5th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Marketing | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Seth Godin has always been a fascinating guru in the realm of modern marketing and his presentation at TED is no exception to this rule. It is, Godin expounds his basic view of modern marketing: you have to be remarkable to succeed these days, not average – and being remarkable makes the right people notice you, who then tell their friends, who tell their friends and so on.

Godin expounds that you focus your new idea towards the early adopters, the innovators – because they are the only people interested in truly new ideas – the average person is only excited by this week’s latest DVD on a normal day. In Japan they have the concept of an ‘otaku’, someone who would travel all the way across Japan purely to try out a new sushi restaurant. These are the people who should be your crusaders, telling all their friends about your new product because it is just the coolest thing.

There are many supporting examples in his talk; how sliced bread wasn’t popular until 15 years after it was launched, how key influencers watch Steve Jobs’ Apple infomercial for two hours and how Seth himself only scores 3.7 on Hot or Not. All of them are compelling and demonstrate how right he is. For those of you who are too lazy to watch this presentation (and hence keep your business going) his summary points are:

  • Design rules now: make your product fit consumer needs and be noticeable.
  • Safe is risky: Be remarkable, be the purple cow in the field, take risks and find out what people like.
  • Being very good is very boring.

So follow those rules and buy Seth a pint when your next business makes a gazillion dollars.