Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Make mine fun!"

I played around for five minutes, perhaps longer (I lost track of time) with the new iMac G5 at CompUSA yesterday. This is the one with the iSight camera integrated into its forehead, like a third eye. Come to think of it, it is indeed an eye. Trim and elegant like any Apple product, looking like a stretched version of the iPod sans the scroll wheel. They had the Photo Booth application running on the machine and I was instantly hooked. I had great time clicking pictures of myself in different distorted forms. Man, was it fun! Had I not remembered that I needed to pick up my son from school I might have spent the next half an hour or more there.

Reflecting on the experience -- and my other experiences with the Mac, going back to 1986 when I first met Sir Lancelot du Mac -- I realize now that FUN is a very critical ingredient of the Mac user experience. Much of the Mac experience, from the moment you turn on the machine through a variety of activities are designed to DELIGHT, not just please, not just satisfy, not just help you get your work done. There are aspects of the Mac's usability that call for improvement, but the Mac is the King of User Experience. Several elements of the Mac design and experience cause you to smile or even giggle. I think this is a big part of why the Mac has attracted an entire cult around it.

I have never experienced a similar sense of fun while using a Windows machine, even when that machine was not otherwise causing frustration and was in fact actually very effective and efficient.

The idea of a computer being FUN and not just practical and useful (which it should be) must flow from the personality of the designers. For the machine to be actually be fun, it must bring a lot of joy to those who design it, and who are therefore able to infect it with that joy. FUN cannot be an item to be checked off on a design laundry list; for if it is merely an item, then the designer will feel compelled to include a hardware or software component that adds the fun part and then move on. FUN deserves more: it must pervade the entire design and be a consideration at every point of the design process. FUN designs are the product of FUN-loving designers; the design, ultimately, is a manifestation of the designer's personality.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


For someone who is basically devoting an entire Blog to Mac-love I wonder what you're still doing with a PC in your office? Perhaps it is time to come back from the dark side?

I wonder if your students might also benefit from a discussion about Open Source. I found this new, to me anyway, website: