April 2, 2009

Subway Sandwiches and User Interface Design

I have long held a personal mantra about UI design, that: "options are an excuse for poor UI design". This mantra was for a long while based only on experience and simmering hatred rather that clear rational. Most people would say they love options, but in truth it seems they don't. The proof lies in the pudding: You only have to compare MySpace and Facebook to know what I mean: In MySpace you can personalise everything... templates, colours, backgrounds, styles, sound, etc. Facebook has over 150 Million users and you couldn't change the background colour if you tried. MySpace has a reputation for being the internet equivalent of a back alley.

Subway sandwiches (stick with me here I am going somewhere with this!) I love a Subway sandwich, its tasty, health and fast. But I find myself with an irrational hatred of the stream of questions required to make a simple sandwich.

What do these two seemingly unrelated things have in common? Its Choice. Or, more accurately, too much choice. It wasn't until I saw this video (and soon: read this book) that it all became clear to me...

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

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