December 12, 2011

Delighting in the details

Interface designer Neven Mrgan made a good point on Friday:

Touch gestures are the new keyboard shortcuts, but the difference is delight: no one ever saw ⌘⇧S and thought “awesome!”

To which I say: Well, no normal person, maybe. :-)

I remember learning Photoshop and discovering that holding Option would turn Cancel buttons into Reset buttons.  “They didn’t have to do that,” I thought–delighted.  Later when I learned After Effects, the teacher showed that Shift-dragging did one thing while Option-dragging did another.  I asked how one would do both things at once, and though he didn’t know, when I combined the modifiers, sure enough, it worked as I wanted.  “My people, my people…” I thought. And just the other day, I took enormous pride in persuading the Photoshop team to get the semantics of a new shortcut just exactly right.

It’s craftsmanship that counts*, and delight flows from the feeling of speed, power, and control. Whatever the surface, let my fingers–and my brain–fly.


* As Photoshop godfather Mark Hamburg observed, “People pay for features because it’s easier to justify the expense. People adore polish because it makes the product feel good, and that adoration will carry you farther in the long run than features.”

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