Tags: seams

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Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Seamfulness

I was listening to some items in my Huffduffer feed when I noticed a little bit of synchronicity.

First of all, I was listening to Tom talking about Thington, and he mentioned seamful design—the idea that “seamlessness” is not necessarily a desirable quality. I think that’s certainly true in the world of connected devices.

Then I listened to Jeff interviewing Matt about hardware startups. They didn’t mention seamful design specifically (it was more all cricket and cables), but again, I think it’s a topic that’s lurking behind any discussion of the internet of things.

I’ve written about seams before. I really feel there’s value—and empowerment—in exposing the points of connection in a system. When designers attempt to airbrush those seams away, I worry that they are moving from “Don’t make me think” to “Don’t allow me to think”.

In many ways, aiming for seamlessness in design feels like the easy way out. It’s a surface-level approach that literally glosses over any deeper problems. I think it might be driven my an underlying assumption that seams are, by definition, ugly. Certainly there are plenty of daily experiences where the seams are noticeable and frustrating. But I don’t think it needs to be this way. The real design challenge is to make those seams beautiful.

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Beyond Progressive Web Apps • cssence.com

Matthias Beitl takes a stab at trying to tackle the tricky UI problem of exposing the URLs of Progressive Web Apps. This stuff is hard.

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups by Robin Sloan in The Atlantic

Something to remember the next time someone describes an experience as “seamless” and means it to be positive:

This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

100 words 017

There are certain attributes of design—or the design process—that are spoken as if they are unquestionably positive. The adjective “innovative” is one of them. But not all innovation is positive. It is possible to create innovative ways to do harm.

Likewise, the word “seamless” is used as though it were by definition a good thing. But hiding the seams in a system is a way of denying a user’s power and autonomy. The problem is that when something goes wrong—as Murphy’s Law dictates it must—the only recourse left is to turn it off and on again.

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Frank Chimero – Only Openings

I guess it goes without saying at this point, but this piece from Frank is beautiful and thought-provoking.

This part in particular touched on some things I’ve been thinking about lately:

Design’s golden calf is simplicity. Speaking as someone who sees, makes, and uses design each and every day, I am tired of simple things. Simple things are weak. They are limited. They are boring. What I truly want is clarity. Give me clear and evident things over simple things. Make me things that presume and honor my intelligence. Shun seamlessness. It is another false token. Make me things that are full of seams, because if you give me a seam and I pull the thread, I get to see how the whole world is stitched together. Give me some credit. Show me you trust me.