SXSW 2013: The Best Interface Is No Interface
Samsung Design America
Many believe the future of design is in screens. They’re wrong. It’s time to kill the interface. Because when we think only in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only improve with a complete overhaul.
This conversation will explore a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. In its most sophisticated form, it centers around learning about individuals, continuously improves and becomes exponentially pertinent. Eliminating counterintuitive input mechanisms for natural inputs inverts the contemporary focus of software design to have computers adapt for people, rather than people adapt for computers. The results can have a profound impact on our lives, and your design process.
There’s a terrible trend in tech today, and that is we’re getting away from solving people’s problems. What is so fascinating about this awful trend is that it started with something good. However, originally computers were all text base, and that wasn’t very good. Then we got GUI interfaces. Today, our love for the digital interface has gotten out of control. How do you build a better car? Slap a screen on it, and track things that are “more important” than your driving such as Twitter and Facebook.
User Experience (UX) is not a User Interface (UI). We are surrounded by screens, and we should start dreaming of a world with no screens. The best interface, is no interface.
- Embrace typical processes instead of a UI. Using one of the new smart phone apps to unlock a car-door is 12 steps. The user interface is 10 of those steps (step 1 is “Walk up to car” and step 12 is “Unlock the door”). We think, as a developer or user, that this is a good way to do it as that’s what we’ve gotten used to.
- Leverage computers instead of catering to them. Computers should do things we don’t want them to do, but what they should do.
- Create a system that adapts for individuals. We’re all unique.
Automatic solutions? They’re very hard to get right, but when you do get them right they become part of our lives. Some people are using UI as a backup. For instance, some hardware is allowing you to tweak features although the normal hardware is fine by itself. Such as an automatic door, which you can always push to open if it fails.
How can we think in this no-UI way? The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface.