2011-06-13 7 Comments
You should avoid the term intuitive when discussing user interfaces.
There’s hardly anything in user interfaces that you don’t have to learn. You just might have learned it long ago in a different context. Humans even have to learn to walk and talk. Some say the nipple would be the only “intuitive” interface. I’ve been told that not even breast feeding just works on first try …
If you call something that has to be learned intuitive, you render that word useless, as it now also refers to what it used to exclude. Should you just want to express easy to learn or works as expected, just do so directly. Don’t be needlessly ambiguous.
To be precise: Lacking a mind, software cannot intuit, not be intuitive, it could be intuitable (support the user’s intuition) at best.
What makes an interface seem “intuitive” is actually familiarity. It might be useful to think of familiarity coming from 3 sources:
- Physical, real world experience that can be leveraged with metaphors and pseudo-physical interface elements (or perhaps custom interface hardware).
- Experience with existing software.
- Concepts/thought-models from specific fields.