Friday, August 26, 2011

Design principles

There is just one design principle - think what will fit your end user the best.

Everything else are just lies. Guidelines at the best case. I will take just one case that I am most familiar with, but you can see many others in many places. During the design of Firefox 3 Mozilla launched idea that Firefox interface should be native to the platform that Firefox user uses (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS, Linux). But they went so long in applying this principle that Firefox 3 for XP looked very similar to Windows XP. Yes, to the system which look was nearly 10 years old! Fortunately, there was good feedback (including myself), and mistake was avoided.

But it puts us to the core of the problem - you can't follow design principle without thinking. Generally speaking, design principle is good because following it you are doing something that is good for end user. But as you can see in this case, that is just one side of the coin. At the same time you might be doing something bad for the user. You might go against another principle. It is very unfortunate that they are not mutually exclusive, and most people forget that. And that is why this is more art than science.

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