The Secret to Better User Interface Design

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What’s the secret to great UI sauce? The magic happens at the boundary between complex technology and how it is combined with a simple and clean design. It sounds straightforward when I say it, but the best products in any market, including AV, combine innovative technology with approachable user experience. We’ve been following two principles here at Mersive that, I think, should be considered deeply by AV companies who are developing new products.

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 Christopher Jaynes

First, design for transparency. Great products are good at packaging complex technology in simple design, while bad products tend to show off technical complexity and “get in the way” of the user. While I’m proud of the technical challenges we solve every day here at Mersive, that doesn’t mean we need to expose those achievements to our customers. The best technologies are nearly transparent while they are being used to support humanistic pursuits. When was the last time you thought about how cellular, packet-switched networks work while you were on a phone call? This simply doesn’t happen; the phone succeeds in becoming nearly transparent while it supports human-to-human conversation. In our case, the goal has been to design a product that allows people to collaborate directly with one another, not with each other’s computers and devices.

This leads to the second principle we’ve been using: design for people, not technology. When working in a space like AV, it becomes easy to focus on products and technology and forget that AV is about delivering sensory experiences for people. Design decisions should be driven by humanistic concerns and not the constraints of technology. Being guided by this principle means you ask questions like: Will people enjoy using this? Will it support their needs? Does it control or expose a metaphor that is intuitive? For example, our wireless video technology can be cleverly controlled to adjust bit-rate and compression ratio. But, we could never introduce those “dials” to an end-user; in this case the answer to our design questions would be “No.”

One final piece of advice: Don’t forget that the AV industry is grounded in the most human-centered part of the technology landscape, delivering images and sound to the eyes and ears of people. Keep this in mind during your next project and I think it will yield results your customers will appreciate.

Christopher Jaynes is the Founder and CTO of Mersive. This feature is part of SCN's "Hush Hush" October print issue.

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