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Pleasant things work better

Thursday, 04 June 2009

I watched Don Norman’s TED Talk “3 ways good design makes you happy” last night:

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This part of his talk really stuck out for me (transcription errors mine):

I really had the feeling that pleasant things work better and that never made any sense to me, until I finally figured it out. Look:

I’m gonna put a plank on the ground. So imagine I have a plank about 2’ wide and 30’ long. And I’m going to walk on it. See I can walk on it without looking, and go back and forth, and I can jump up and down. No problem. Now I’m going to put the plank 300’ feet in the air… and I’m not going to go near it, thank you. Intense fear paralyzes you. It actually affects the way your brain works.

If you’re happy, things work better because you’re more creative. You get a little problem, you say “Ah, I’ll figure it out. No big deal.”

Don Norman’s ideas may be more relevant to industrial design, but I think this can safely be applied to software design (more my domain). Don points to how being fun and beautiful can make something better – not just seem better, but work better. That’s an important point in the common trade off in software development between spending more time on features or bugs vs. spending some time on making a UI “pretty”. Occassionally in work debates – whether on Komodo or on some of the ActiveState websites I’m involved in – that “pretty” is said dismissively. I’m happy to have Don Norman’s talk as a debate point.



BTW, thanks to stephen. A few weeks ago I reinstalled my Mac book and posted a list of the software I use. Stephen suggested I add Miro to that list. Cue many evenings of watching TED talks (including the above talk) and other programs.

After installing Miro, visit https://miroguide.com/feeds/2014 to get the latest TED Talks.