This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of joining Wilson Miner, Stephanie Hornung, Kerem Suer, Mark Kuwano and Alan Urdan for a town hall panel entitled Skeuomorphism vs. Simplicity: The Future of UI. Organized by The Designer Fund, graciously hosted1 by Asana and with an excellent crowd in attendance, a great time was had by all.
We discussed quite a few examples regarding the topic, and naturally the typical poster children were mentioned: Apple, Microsoft and iOS apps, along with representatives outside the immediate tech world.
I won’t go into much of a recap, but one of the questions and points of discussion addressed the intersection of delight, interaction and visual aesthetic — specifically around either sound and/or haptic feedback.
The panelists brought up thoughtful cases — Wilson spoke about using a Nest thermostat and how that incorporates the above. An example I cited later during a post-panel exchange with attendees involved Solar, the minimalist weather app that I enjoy greatly.
If you haven’t seen Solar before, here are some screenshots:
There’s a settings page that has a feature simply called “Vibration.”
I wasn’t sure what it did. I assumed it was for some kind of alert. It didn’t become clear until Jen and I went to Malaysia in August, and during an inclement weather period, a “Chance of Thunderstorms” was predicted on a few different days. In Solar, you slide through the forecast of the day by swiping upward. Clever. And if there’s thunder and lightning, the phone vibrates at the point they are forecasted. The screen also fades lightly in and out to white to further mimic thunder and lightning, in addition to a lightning strike visual. It’s a very delightful and unexpected interaction. It does a beautiful job of providing context and reinforcing the part of the day in an app that needs no visual detritus and focuses on using color, haptic feedback and, ultimately, simplicity to conjur up delight.
1 Asana were superpro about their setup. Set in a loungy atmosphere, their in-house culinary team catered delicious food and drinks. We were escorted to our seats, individually mic’d, soundboard engineer–checked and made to feel as comfortable as possible. PRO. Attendees were presented with Asana T-shirts and iPhone cases, and panelists were given a little take-home gift with a note of thanks. Very classy. ↩
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