Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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If Your Interface Sucks, Your Product Sucks

Things should be easy to use. I know it’s kind of a broad statement, but it’s true.

I was explaining my feelings on this just last night. My feeling on any new technology is that if I can’t figure it out in five minutes it’s probably not worth figuring out. I know that’s a tiny amount of time and probably a bad way to live, but if you haven’t created something that I can figure out in a short period of time, then why should I bother. Chances are if it’s that confusing your company/product/webapp won’t exist six months from now anyway.

Yeah, it’s a little egotistical, but it’s also a way for me to weed out the static. If I put lots of time into every new thing I saw I’d waste a whole lot of time. So I don’t.

Garrett Dimon echoes this idea in a post titled, appropriately enough, “If It Needs Instructions, It Doesn’t Work”.

If it needs a lot of explaining it’s probably too confusing.

So why don’t you or your company take that time it took you to write your forty page instruction manual and make your product simpler?

An interface tells you a lot about a product. You know why it was always so hard to program a VCR to record your favorite program? Because the powers that be didn’t want you recording your favorite program. The VCR was a device made for playback, just compare the size of the play button and the record button and you’ll see what I mean.

So what’s my point?

If your interface sucks, your product does too.

In fact, in a digital world most often there’s no difference between the two. Your interface is your product. So why don’t you think about it?

June 24, 2005