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Some people just (don’t) get interfaces…


Interfaces are more than skin deep

I read a post today about the effort members of the Panic development team went through to make the Coda interface so intuitive.

Coda, if you haven’t heard of it, is an all-in-one solution for building, editing, testing, and publishing web sites. It is aimed at a more advanced market than iWeb and others due to its focus on the code rather than providing a WYSIWYG editor.

Anyway, the article explained how much effort they put into a small change to the toolbar. The Mac OS X toolbar is getting outdated, and to fit with the pretty slick interface of Coda, they wanted to change the toolbar tab button backgrounds. This seemed like a small task, until they realised what they wanted to do could only possibly be done with an annoying 3 pixel gap at the bottom, and almost gave up.

Instead, they reconsidered, and decided to build a whole new toolbar to facilitate their design decision. It was tough work, and the designers spent a while persuading the developers that it was a good idea, but eventually they got it done.

Coda Toolbar

The interface is attractive, and debatably nicer than many standard OS X apps that use the system wide toolbar.

The point I want to make is that not many users would have realised the huge amounts of effort if it wasn’t pointed out in a post. Sometimes, the effort that goes on behind the scenes just to make something feel “natural” really isn’t appreciated by the end user.

This kind of thing happens so much in web design, and I know it does in our case, which is why we try, whenever we can to discuss what we have done to get to where we are at. Not only does this help others appreciate our work, it also helps others do things in ways they hadn’t previously thought about.

Equally important is for others to comment on how people do things – did you do it the same way? Was your method faster? Do you think this way improves on the old one? etc etc.

Even better is when you can provide a piece of the effort you put in, and share it with everyone. For example, when we wanted to neaten up some CSS files, we built a PHP script to help us out. Shortly after a bit of testing and adapting, we decided to share it with you. Because we like to help ๐Ÿ˜€

Next time you’re working on a project, and you want help, or want to show just how much effort has gone in, simply post about it.

Even better, tell us, because we love to hear about your upcoming projects and the work you’re doing.

Written by
James is CEO and one of the co-founders of GoSquared. He also likes to talk about design.

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