Interface is everything

Well almost.

We have recently been migrating from good old stodgy Nokia workhorse phones to Blackberries, so that we can have the delight of 24 hr e-mail etc. So it was good bye to my trusty Nokia (I think it was the 5th one on the trot) and get used to a brave new world. The thing that I loved about my series of Nokia phones was that there was no learning curve with a new phone the menus were always roughly the same and the odd new feature was easily found, I know they weren’t everyone’s favourite but they were easy to use. Now my new blackberry has got loads of keys and does way more than the old Nokia but it just does not seem intuitive to me, wouldn’t it be great if they could mimic the menus and interface from my old favourite, at least until I get used to it.

Eventually I managed to get my phone book migrated and started to appreciate mobile e-mail and the wonders of Google Maps Mobile (the locate me function is really great if you haven’t tried it) and the Opera Mini browser is not bad. I was starting to become quite fond of the blackberry and was showing it to a colleague on the train who then started to compare it to his new iPhone, well not really – you just cannot put the blackberry in the same class. The iPhone interface experience is a delight big clear virtual keyboards instead of unreadable micro buttons that require double jointed dexterity with Alt Shift combinations etc etc.

This isn’t a eulogy for the iPhone or a grump about the blackberry (which isn’t bad really) but the instant response that I had when I tried the iPhone and the speed with which I could adapt to it is a great lesson for anyone designing software interfaces and particularly if your users are going to be migrating from a quirky but well understood and possibly even much loved old product.

When it comes to buttons less is more