In design it’s often the small details that matter the most. And a couple recent finds have been great reminders of that.
The first is the site KnobFeel. It’s a collection of “reviews based purely on the feel of the knob.” And it’s genius because, for so much industrial design, it really is the subtle tactle qualities that influence our experience using things. And the knob is often this primary point of user interaction. I fell in love. It may be strangely porn-like, with it’s non-verbal audio and awkward camera angle, but it’s a great way to communicate how the device feels. Plus there are short written reviews that explain what works or doesn’t work about each knob design.
The post Visceral Apps and You by Rob Foster gives a really nice explanation of why certain apps hold our attention and give a “rush of emotion” when we use them… design details! Things like the pull-to-refresh that’s become standard in so many apps. He highlights a couple great examples: 1) with Clear the “build-up and release” and kinetic qualities of editing lists; and 2) with Path, the little clock arms that spin as you move the timeline, the parallax scrolling on the user’s page, and a delightful red plus button.
It’s all about attention to detail. And Little Big Details, which has been around for a couple years, is full of examples UI elements that show how designers have really considered their particular users. Here are a couple examples:
All worth a look.
For an example of an interface where the detail actually hurts the design, Make It So published an analysis of the cigarette dispenser in The Fifth Element. For something which is supposed to discourage smoking, it’s full of triggers that remind the smoker about smoking and when they can smoke next.