A TOY NOT A TOOL
For a long time, software has been perceived in an utilitarian way. It was used to accomplish a task, process some data, or automate a tedious calculation.
Within this perception, a good User Interface had to be a simple and straight forward way to interact with a functionality.
No pain, no pleasure, just a function.
Software was a tool!
Now software is everything and everywhere! It is how we interact with the world, it replaces many physical objects that used to provide a rich experience.
We don’t use software only to accomplish these tedious tasks, now we use it to entertain ourselves, to connect to each other, to learn, and educate ourselves.
There is a lot of software that accomplishes basically the same thing, competing with each other. The focus is now shifting towards the user experience rather than only the core functionality. This shift will be useless if it does not go along with a new perspective on software and how we interact with it.
Software is a toy not a tool.
I don’t mean it has to be a childish and squishy baby rattle, full of loud colors, but it has to be fun to use!
It has to be a full and rich physical experience, something your user will enjoy to use; even look forward to using! Video-games can obviously provide us with some inspiration, but also the objects you enjoy using every day. Interaction, transition, visuals, but also sounds, physics, layout, and pace participate to the experience.
It’s not just about ergonomics but also about emotion, pleasure, challenges, and rewards.
Think about the experience for the sake of it instead of its end goal and everything will come in place.
Think about the experience as a relationship: not something dull and friction-less but something exciting and engaging.
Jerome Lacote is a Senior UI/UX designer at TheNewBuro.com. He has worked on many successful products for Rockstar Games, Disney, Activision, etc.