The Best Interface is No Interface
After all, as Edward Tufte once said, “Overload, clutter, and confusion are not attributes of information, they are failures of design.”
Many brilliant thinkers, dreamers, designers, engineers, developers, and entrepreneurs have made and will continue to make great strides enriching the human experience through technology in many of these locations. But in an ultracompetitive global market where fast and lean are more valued than deep thinking or original solutions, many of us—including myself—have been caught up in reactionary rectangles, thoughtless habits, and the self-delusion that the way things have gone the past few years is the way we should keep going forever.
But when you specifically hire someone to generate UI, you won’t get new, innovative solutions. You’ll get more UI, not better UX.
UX stopped being about people, and started being about rounded rectangles and parallax animations.
I believe our job as designers is to give you what you need as quickly and as elegantly as we can. Our job as designers is to take you away from technology. Our job as designers is to make you smile. To make a profit by providing you something that enhances your life in the most seamless and wonderful way possible.
We can build better, more efficient, more elegant technology products that have no distracting interfaces at all. The best distracting interface is no distracting interface, and we can get there together.
The best result for any technology is to solve meaningful problems in impactful ways.
The best design reduces work. The best computer is unseen. The best interaction is natural. The best interface is no interface.
Unique problems don’t have generic answers.
Great thinkers adapt. Great companies offer their customers the best possible solutions, whether they have a graphical user interface or not.
Good design solves problems. Good experience design isn’t about good screens, it’s about good experiences.
Instead, by understanding the context, by embracing typical processes, we can create more elegant solutions. Things that feel like magic.
When you’re out saving lives, the last thing you want to worry about is interfaces and batteries.
Sensors are one way to provide richer information for machines. They can seamlessly enable a machine to read the needs of the outside world without a submit button. And there are many ways to gather the signals that lead to machine input.
Instead of adding another chore, computers can do the things we don’t want to do, that we don’t know we should do, and that we aren’t able to do behind the scenes.
Rarely do these digital chores involve creating or contributing to the world. Rather, they’re mostly made up of us serving the computer.
The software worked invisibly in the background, automatically eliminating a nonsensical digital chore for you.
Tech workers aren’t fired for being safe; but while remaining safe, tech companies die.
So while we sometimes recall and retell technological history through effortless tales, the reality is that many meaningful technology accomplishments at the most influential companies are the result of successful internal political wins, a slow climb of convincing the right people in the right place at the right time that a good idea is actually good.
Talk of failure can slow ideation and start an endless, paranoid debate when discussing the abstract in early product stages. But when actually readying something for the real world, we shouldn’t always rely on the intended solution. Failure is always a potential outcome, and any good system considers how to deal with that failure in an effective way: predictive analytics, sensors, or even graphical user interfaces.
“The best interface is no interface” doesn’t mean the only outcome should be no interface, it means the best possible outcome is no interface. Insisting that NoUI is the only viable solution would be utterly stupid.
One that doesn’t distract us or try to get us addicted, something that embraces the way we live and aims to make it better quietly and elegantly. For technology to become embedded in the fabric of our lives instead of a distraction away from what really matters.