Everyday Computing, Letters & Opinion

Celebrating Simple Design

Image of Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

IT was right that the Police Chief apologised for the monumental traffic that was experienced last week Thursday, due to the extensive impact of that traffic around the city. Still, the welcome apology was missing a firm commitment to avoid similar circumstances from occurring in the future. The reason for the traffic? The eventual unveiling of the beautiful work of art ‘All In’ by Jallim Eudovic, to commemorate our fortieth Independence anniversary. Absent from that monument is the canoe being rowed by the four figures. At night time the monument may not be immediately visible, since the required illumination is absent, to transform it into an eye catching icon after hours.

Usually, the lack of a sign or structure represents an oversight, a mistake observed too often in our country. For example, the experience of motorists who have encountered a traffic obstruction, with a not-so-helpful sign placed next to that very obstruction! Absent is the early warning needed to cause motorists to adjust and be more alert in good time. Abrupt lane closures are a particular example of this phenomenon.

Sometimes though, the lack of signage, decoration, or other dressing might actually represent a feature. In the same way that our new national monument suggests the absent canoe, the mind’s eye notices and fills in that missing detail. In ICT circles, that technique is also used.

The text and graphics presented on a computer screen must fit within the limited real estate available. If too much information is presented, the screen would likely appear too cluttered to be useful, and burden the user in locating the needed material.

A well thought out design allows you to omit some details, effectively decluttering the appearance, without losing your ability to interpret or navigate the device. The very design suggests the appropriate usage, limiting the clutter presented to the user. You may have already noticed the distinctive look of the icons presented on the popular Apple iPhone. Android users also enjoy a distinctive look and feel.

A key theme is this: it should be simple, but not confusing. Also, if you have to label something, then you might have failed to design it properly. At a glance, certain objects suggest their correct use or operation, like a telephone handset, a bench, even a roundabout.

When designing items that people interact with, a simple theme is usually preferable. Making objects uncomplicated, yet simple and useful, and even beautiful, is on ongoing challenge! How could you adopt similar thinking in your own line of work? Your customers might prove you with some good suggestions. Reducing the number of forms required to conduct a transaction is usually a good start. The simple geometry of a roundabout suggests the correct direction of travel without a one way sign being erected.

In the meantime, we can all enjoy the genius of Jallim Eudovic’s creation when we traverse the Waterfront. Definitely something to celebrate.

Editor’s note: Dr Lyndell St Ville is an ICT Consultant with a background in environmental science. His expertise includes systems analysis, planning, and capacity building. To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

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