A bit of a gap in posting, but I've just come back from three weeks away, visiting relatives in New Zealand as part of a round the world trip(London -> Tokyo, Tokyo -> Wellington, New Zealand, Wellington->San Francisco, SF -> London).
This gave me the chance to experience two in flight systems back to back; Virgin Atlantic (London flights) versus Air New Zealand (Wellington->SF). Being someone who has worked in the interactive television industry, I was quite keen on playing with the video on demand (VOD) and other features. It's very close to the kind of work I've been involved in with digital satellite and digital cable devices.
I'm working on a reasonably detailed critique of the two systems, analysing the ease of use in the user interfaces and their methodologies. I'm very keen on this area as, in general, programmers are piss poor at designing user interfaces. I'm always amazed at how hard some software is to use just because the programmer took a short cut so they didn't have to work too hard.
Needless to say, if the two systems were similar in their approach and achieved the same goals I wouldn't be wasting my time. However, one of the systems was simple, quick and took no time to learn. The other blowed big time. It was cumbersome, clunky and slow. If it had been a real world application, and I hadn't been stuck on that plane for 10 hours I would have given up within 15 minutes.
The first principal of UI design, and as a programmer I always remind myself during application design; Don't make the user feel stupid.
I believe this comment may have come from one of Alan Cooper books (father of Visual Basic, and now into application design), but it could be from another design book. It was a principal ignored in one of the in flight systems. Question is, was it Virgin or Air NZ which got the raspberry?
| posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 8:25 AM