As we labor over how a product is designed, we’ll often get mired in the larger pieces. Move this element here. Reorganize those elements there. Designers make wholesale changes hoping to create an intuitive user experience.
Very often, after that design’s been set out into the wild, we’re quickly humbled. Feature set X, which took months to develop, is almost never used. What’s most frustrating is that failure of adoption has little to do with how good or valuable that feature may be. People simply aren’t using it because of poor or confusing design.
Virtual desktop software has been around for years. It essentially expands your desktop space beyond your display size to allow for more workspace. It is by no means a new invention. Yet to this day, virtual desktops are still relegated to the realm of the tech savvy. One reason for its niche status is that many people simply don’t need multiple desktops. However, if you’ve ever played with these tools, you quickly realize they’re a bit, well, hokey.
And then along comes Apple to reinvent what’s already been invented. Spaces is a new virtual desktop feature that is to be bundled with their Leopard operating system update. If you spend a couple of minutes watching the movie, you’ll quickly realize how much more accessible Spaces feels than your typical virtual desktop.
What struck me was not now much better Spaces was in terms of features, but actually how feature poor it is. It’s simply four tiled desktops with simple navigation. No Advanced Options. No configurations. It’s a slight update to the existing concept, yet it may well be just enough to introduce it to a much broader audience. Good design can do that. The features may well not be needed, but the right design gives your products a chance.