May 09, 2002

Makers of Electronics Begin to Emphasize Style
Don Norman has been talking a lot lately about aesthetics and beauty. He talked about it at CHI, on CHI-Web, and in a NewsFactor article about the design of consumer electronics.

Here are a few good snippets from that article:
"Norman lauded the Handspring Treo phone and personal organizer for sporting a form that fit its function. The device has a thumb-operated keyboard and large screen for e-mail and Web access packed in a slim, flip-phone frame.

"Stop thinking about the technology and start thinking about what people are doing," Norman said. "That's the secret to good design."

"In designing the new iMac, Apple wanted to make a computer that "physically fits people better," said Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice president of industrial design.

"If we had just set out to design a computer with a flat panel, that clearly would have an enormous influence on our approach," Ive said. "If you are not considering the problem appropriately, and you are not understanding its context, you are going to come up with a fairly predictable solution."

At Nokia, designers spend a lot of time studying consumer behavior, said Alastair Curtis, group design director.

About four years ago, the company noticed Americans' and Europeans' burgeoning interest in yoga and decided it needed a simple product where special-function keys were grouped together. The result was the wildly successful, 4-inch tall 8200 phone series."

Of course, I have no idea what yoga has to do with grouping buttons on a phone. Maybe if I join the National Yoga Association they'll let me in on that little secret...

From the archives:
- Usability is lacking in the consumer electronics world as well
- User centered design sells products

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