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Tech as Art – Simplified

August 12, 2014

I’m shaken by yesterday’s celebrity news, but I can’t newsjack it for meaningless views. The man’s resume is full of laugh till you cry comedy, but by far my favorite role was dramatic, as an imperfect mentor who lovingly persuaded the vast human potential from an abused young man. One reader comment yesterday summed up that performance:

“I don’t think there’s another actor alive who could of done such a superb job making me want to do something more with my life.”

Now on to a different art form…

google tv remote v apple tv remoteWhile yesterday’s post was Zen and the Art of Customer Experience, today’s could easily be Zen and the Art of Designing the Customer Experience, but then people might think they already read it. On Monday the New York Times ran Simplifying the Bull: How Picasso Helps to Teach Apple’s Style. The article quotes 3 anonymous Apple employees describing some of their experiences in Apple University, the secretive employee training program from the company that brought many of you your phone.

The article is brief, but cites the use of a deconstructed Picasso painting to illustrate getting to simplicity, and a comparison between the competing remotes for Google TV and Apple TV. At the end of their design process, Apple engineers settled on “a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.” Simple. I’ve used the old artist as technology metaphor, though somewhat differently, asking “What if your beautiful, elegant, artistic, and (you think) intuitive software looks like a Jackson Pollock painting to your users?” After all, the accessibility and appeal of art or technology is an individual human perception. Some see magic while others see a mess.

Like yesterday’s whiff on defining quality, the same challenge exists for “intuitiveness” or “simplicity” in technology design. When you think about using technology, what makes it “intuitive” or “simple” for you? And what makes it a mess?

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