This week we bring you our pressing topic of the moment straight from our reader-driven discussion boards! Recently, Core77 reader mirk asked a loaded question regarding user interfaces and how designers can sensitively improve on user experience of the past while also keeping it as universally intuitive as is possible. mirk asks,
"Wondering your thoughts on the trade-off between immediate understanding vs long term ease of use. Any examples that come to mind that illustrate the advantages of one over the other? I'm thinking about the door of my new car. For me, it has great long-term UX, but it's not great immediately. You walk up to it and touch the handle and it unlocks if your keys are within a certain distance. I love the experience of it, but it totally confused my mom who expected a keyhole. I'm curious if she would like it after spending more time with it.
My initial feeling is that long-term [UI] feels more futuristic, but blocks adoption (if someone tries your product and it takes some explaining, it creates a barrier to purchasing).
I'm sure that the answer in general is "both" (my key fob has an unlock button for example, which has become an accepted method after combining it with the analog key), but I'm curious where and how you would make the trade-off if necessary."
Although this question was posted in May, the topic eerily brings to mind Rain's recent article regarding the tragic death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who died after being pinned between his car (that was supposedly in park) and his house gate. We proposed that the shift lever of his Jeep Grand Cherokee, which had recently been recalled by the car company because of the death, demonstrated less than intuitive UI and could have been to blame for the accident. Could this accident been avoided if the car incorporated a classic, familiar example of shift lever design?
2015 Jeep Cherokee's less-than-intuitive shift lever (above) vs. a more standard example (below)
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What are your thoughts about how to design something that improves on past interfaces while also keeping it familiar enough that it won't confuse consumers? Do you have any examples of UI nightmares, products proving to either be too progressive for consumers to understand or simply designed poorly?
We want to hear your thoughts.
(Also feel free to check out the original post and contribute on our discussion board!)