UX (That Means Interface) Excitement

November 9, 2017

I read an article in Thread Reader. The first person essay titled I think “Graviscera.” In theory, you can find the story at the link provided in the previous sentence.

The subject of the write up is the UX or what oldsters like me call an “interface.” The concept is simple, but like most digital thingies, it is a challenge to some. My father, before he died, struggled with using a mouse. He was a keyboard type of person. I find that I am okay with a mouse, but every once in a while, I long for XyWrite III+. IBM bought this fine word processors and, well, you can pretty much figure out the fate of that nifty, speedy piece of code.

In Graviscera, a person with a strong sense of what works expresses opinions about a number of the silly, perhaps stupid, interfaces foisted on users. I enjoyed the write up because it has oomph.

Here are three points, and I urge you to read the full essay. If you are under the age of 35, you will probably disagree with the ideas in the essay. If you are a bit older, you may recall keyboard centric and command line interfaces which did not require moving a cursor to and fro or putting a large finger on a Lilliputian icon in order to view a document. Believe me, old fingers and tiny icons on a zippy mobile phone can frustrate even a manic Facebook user or twitchy tweeter.

Now the three points I highlighted with an old fashioned orange marker:

  1. Google Maps is unusable. Yep, Graviscera nailed it. I am not sure what the Googlers are trying to accomplish with maps, but performing certain operations is impossible for Graviscera and me. Don’t believe me. Try to figure out what’s on a route from a mobile version of Google Maps. Give up? Now try the same thing on a desktop version of Google Maps. Give up? I have. As miserable as Bing is, I find its mapping function slightly less worse than Google’s.
  2. Use a mouse to view Twitter content. Graviscera points out that a keyboard interface would make life easier. That’s true. The low contrast of Twitter adds an additional usability challenge. Those with perfect eyesight probably love the mousing around thing on pale blue text. Well, I don’t, and Graviscera seems likely to agree.
  3. Keyboards and function keys work for many applications. Graviscera nails this. The focus is on point of sale terminals. But there are many applications which would benefit from consistent keyboard functions. Even the crazy IBM keyboard with the two dozen function keys were easier to operate than some mobile interfaces. Graviscera does not mention Fitbit, but I think it is a poster child for mobile wonkiness.

I recommend that you read Graviscera. Let me conclude with this quote from the write up:

Nobody will agree with me, citing anecdotes and examples that are meaningless in the current zeitgeist.

No need to fret. I agree with you.

Stephen E Arnold, November 9, 2017

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