UI Tip: Be Physical & Real

BuzzWord (Beta)I was playing around with a new web app the other day, called BuzzWord. I play around with as many new services as I can so I can get as many ideas as I can for new styles of user interface. (Screenshot included). Despite the fact that it was flash (I said it!), something struck me about the program: it was a joy to use. But I couldn’t figure out why. I knew I definitely didn’t get that feeling from using another online word processor.

Google Doc
And then it hit me – it actually graphically displayed the concept of pages, and more natural spacing between words. And that made all the difference. I started looking around the web a bit more, and indeed, many layouts are starting to incorporate more real-life physicality and images into their layouts. It just makes people want to use the applications more. Don’t get me wrong – features are equally if not more important too (which is why I will continue to use the product displayed on the left). There is a company that is doing this really well right now: Apple. If you look at their products, from the iPod, to Pages, to iTunes, many of them incorporate real life, realistic graphics, not to mention a great tactile experience.

The new Microsoft Surface

… And then I saw Microsoft Surface (at techcrunch, of course!). I have been koolaided. Multi-input, context aware, graphical interface is the next biggest thing in user experience since the window manager and the mouse! Yes, it’s been around since the ’80s, yes other companies might succeed over Microsoft at making this actually work, but the possibilities with this are endless. Combine it with a Wii controller (or something that takes gestures from a distance away), and you’re golden. Put your planner on the surface, and all your favorite web services talk to it and tell you what you should be doing when. Oy vey, I’m getting too excited – I need to rest.

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One Comment on “UI Tip: Be Physical & Real”

  1. JJ Says:

    HP made the same thing you described in your post “the Microsoft Surface”. It was a top secret project a few years back. Microsoft may have bought the technology from HP.


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