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Comments for the Humane Interface

The Humane InterfaceThe Humane Interface: 06/25/07

The Humane Interface has been sitting on my shelf for seven years. I bought it when I was starting my first salaried job in web design thinking I'd have more control over the site I was hired to help redesign. Boy was I wrong! Since I didn't need the book, I let it sit unread until this year. I was finally inspired to read it as part of the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. Although it wasn't part of my official list, I've been having so much fun reading non-fiction that it seemed appropriate.

The Humane Interface tries to find the most efficient way to balance the needs of two different types of users: the habitual and the novice. The habitual user needs efficient ways to handle tasks but flexibility to handle changes in routine. Meanwhile, the novice needs an interface that is easy to learn and obvious enough to handle the tasks at hand. While both users are being courted, the interface should also stay out of the way of whomever is using it.

All that is good and practical advice. When Raskin begins giving examples of good computer interfaces things become muddled. Now for a man who helped design the Macintosh and me a huge Mac geek, I would expect to agree more with his ideas of what makes an interface good but I don't. I like having my files as separate entities. I don't mind having to switch programs to send email. What is wrong with drag and drop?

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