I often forget the fundamentals. I was reading through the the iOS 7 Human Interface Guidelines and I wanted to discuss a common thread: favoring consistency.
On one hand, Apple’s design guidelines can seem pompous — “refer to x for advice on y… don’t do this… it looks good if….” But, this post isn’t meant to spur a debate about the new UI or Apple’s insistence on conformity. I wrote this post because even as I design new things each day, as I said, I often forget the fundamentals.
Sometimes, we push ourselves to be “innovative” to do something new and different. And sometimes those innovative design decisions are less innovative than they are inconsistent and confusing. Custom isn’t always better. We can waste people’s time — we can waste our customer service people’s time when they have to explain how-to-do-x 5 million times over. We waste our users’ time when they struggle to figure something out. Customization is not always worth the ah-ha-cool-interaction-Fast-Company-article outcome.
Fostering understanding through familiarity, and consistency can sometimes be king. (This is coming from someone who was told: “Your buttons don’t push like buttons.”)
In our data-heavy world, I also find that it’s very easy to forget hierarchy. I find myself thinking, “but it’s all important…. it all lends context.” But, the fact is, if there is no hierarchy, our designs can actually diminish our primary message and end up inadvertently diluting context.
In context of everything else, one message or one action is primary. When doing design critiques, we have to remember to ask: “What is the main goal of this view?” If our users do this one thing, then this design is successful….
The iOS 7 Guidelines remind us of the basic design principles around emphasis and hierarchy:
One point worth mentioning about location… One of the best bits of advice I learned in school concerned deciding whether or not to place an element on the left or the right. When I was rendering an object in an industrial design course, and I needed to convey speed or movement, it was important to place something that was intended to “move you forward” on the right.
Just as Westerners read from left to right, Westerners often assume momentum moves from left to right. So a “next” button would naturally be on the right. But, if I wanted someone to pause before accepting the terms, or to think twice before deleting, I’d need to place the action toward the left.
Two Fridays ago, our head of business/sales sent me this article by Brad Feld *you should read it.* In the article, Brad quotes Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter:
It’s not your job to defend your team. It’s your job to improve your team.
Brad makes the point that just as VCs don’t run around investing in companies that “seem like they could be good,” so too CEOs don’t run around hiring people who “seem like they could be good.” When VCs invest, he believes “it is going to be an incredible success.” So too, when CEOs hire, they believe those team members are going to be incredibly successful.
But, just like an investment that doesn’t ramp up or perform exactly as a VC would hope, team members don’t always perform as the CEO may have imagined. And sometimes, even the CEO doesn’t perform exactly how he or she would have hoped. VCs have an obligation to improve their team — their investments. CEOs have an obligation to improve their team and themselves as well. And that means taking and giving feedback.
Brad’s take on this is:
The not so amazing CEO or executive immediately falls into a mode of trying to defend the person, or the team, to the outside world (board, investors, customers) and other members of the team.
It is incredibly easy to to “fall into the trap of defending our own behavior when someone offers us feedback or constructive criticism.” It’s also easy, as I’ve done so many times, to say: “I’m working on it, give me a little time.”
When anyone offers me feedback — friends, family, teammates — I often say I’m working on it, just wait. “Wait, we’re about to launch x, y, z.”
Just wait. I will call home more.
Wait. We’re going to be to be focusing on that soon.
Wait, I will be on time more.
Wait, I will get better at email.
Wait, I’m going to start working out next week.
Just you wait and see….
By saying wait + response — versus actually listening — I’m essentially shutting up potentially one of my most valuable drivers of success.
And I’m realizing that for a person like me, who is incredibly impatient, it’s incredibly rude and stupid for me to say “Ya, ya, ya…I need more time to fix this.” I don’t need more time. What I need is to listen, listen, listen, then own up and step up.
If someone has gone out on a limb to give me feedback, I’m going to start pausing, listening, and saying (if it’s reasonable feedback), “You’re right, do you have any more suggestions… is there anything else?” My new view is: Milk the feedback. Milk it for all its worth before getting on the defensive. Get it. Then own up and step up through small, concrete steps.
And I don’t think there are any shortcuts to improving, winning, and just being plain awesome
One time, at an internship, my boss took me aside after a meeting.
She said: “Are you going to take notes like that all summer?”
I said: “I don’t know, maybe…. I like keeping notes of what happened.”
She said: “Are you going to keep emailing them to everyone?”
I said: “I can if you want me to….”
She said: “Are you going to take notes and email them to everyone your whole life? …. Is that going to be your role?”
No. Hell no. Note-taking was not going to be my role, thank you. Then she looked at me and said:
“If you don’t want to be seen as the note taker, stop taking notes. When I was younger in my career, I took notes. Then one day, at the end of the meeting, someone said to me: you’ve got the notes right, so I dont have to go to that meeting right? I was the nice little girl who took notes for everyone.”
Hi I’m Kelsey. I’m an intensely curious girl. I love art, witty jokes, loud concerts with lots of lights, dancing, and New York City rooftops.
I launched Poptip with a team of truly amazing people in June 2012. Before that I was in school. While studying industrial design at the University of Notre Dame, I fell in love with the creative process and how people get new ideas. Feedback as a catalyst for creation fascinated me. That’s just one reason why Poptip exists.