Joel’s Two Observations on UI [...]

Joel Splosky argues that designs have to make sense without manuals or instructions.

When you design user interfaces, it’s a good idea to keep two principles in mind:

  • Users don’t have the manual, and if they did, they wouldn’t read it.

  • In fact, users can’t read anything, and if they could, they wouldn’t want to.

These are not, strictly speaking, facts, but you should act as if they are facts, for it will make your program easier and friendlier. Designing with these ideas in mind is called respecting the user, which means, not having much respect for the user. Confused? Let me explain.

By the last bit, he means you have to assume that users are very very stupid and careless and unfocused. Not because they are that way as people, but because they are that way with your piece of software.


Similar points are mad in Considerate Software

The inventor of the World Wide Web cautions that much web UI incentivizes bad behavior. See Berners-Lee on a Harmonious Web

A good example of this from architecture is Norman Doors.