The Best Interface Is No Interface – A book recommendation

It had been on my desk for over three quarters of a year: The book "The Best Interface Is No Interface" by Golden Krishna. He is a UX Designer who works for Cooper in startups and Fortune 50 companies, for Samsung in the Research & Development department and currently for Google. The title of the book didn't bode well, after all interfaces are our daily bread in coeno and now Mr. Krishna comes around the corner and thinks he's going to take it away from us? So I started the 240-page book with mixed feelings, which almost completely dissolved

The book, which comes with a plain white cover with embossed printing (the designer in me is delighted), is based on the half-hour lecture of the same name that Golden Krishna gave at the "South by Southwest" conference in Texas in 2013. In this talk he explains that the current situation in the technology or UX community is a tricky one. A large part of the industry has fallen for so-called "screen-based thinking". That is, a way of thinking that wants to solve any problems with the help of screens and apps. This leads to YouTube videos on oven doors, Twitter feeds in car cockpits or, most recently, touch screens on wine bottles. But probably the most impressive example for his observation is an app that helps me to open my car door. Nothing earth-shattering in itself and I'm sure we've all seen or used apps from the big car manufacturers before. But Krishna takes a step back and looks at the individual steps that are needed to reach the goal - to open the car door. The result is frightening to say the least (spoiler alert: there are 12 single steps!). However, he also cites a counter-example, the Keyless-Go technology from Mercedes-Benz, which detects when the driver approaches with the key and opens the door automatically, and this completely without a screen. Consequently, one of his theses is that one should not welcome screens but typical processes with open arms.

For us as trained usability engineers this is no foreign word and as often as possible we include the user in our research or observe those typical processes in usability tests and field studies.

Krishna, however, brings another thesis into play: We are slaves of computers. "The password must have 8 characters and at least one number and one punctuation mark" - "Of course I'd love to have oh' big computer!

However, we hardly use the fact that our computers and smartphones are becoming more intelligent every day, can process information faster by the minute and can collect more data by the second through sensors. Krishna suggests using the immense power of computers and sensors to actually take work off our hands and make life easier. Or as the book says: "Fuck Dropdowns. It's Time to teach our powerful machines to sense the world more like we do. This is of course backed up with a few examples, both in the lecture and in the book, and you want to get started right away, to let sensors and artificial intelligence work on your own daily problems.

But speaking of our own problems: Krishna says and I think you can agree with him completely, each of us is individual, with our own problems, expectations, wishes and hopes - a little flower on the big meadow of the world. So why develop problem solutions that are almost completely generic and do not respond to the individual in any way? Exactly this is Krishna's last big thesis: The problem solution must adapt to the individuality of the user. To put it mildly, this is of course the most difficult part, but in times of Big Data and the general openness of users to share their data (as long as they get a better product in return - hello Gmail and friends), this should be possible.

On the whole, it can be said that the ideas that Golden Krishna puts forward in his lecture are of course not really new in themselves. However, in this combination, and especially in this radicality, have never before been so clearly formulated and hopefully lead to a rethinking in the whole industry. So I can recommend everyone who wants to invest more than 30min. and watch the video of the presentation. The book serves to deepen some of the points and above all brings along further positive and negative examples, but cannot keep up with the precision of the lecture. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the very stylishly designed book, which is mainly due to the entertaining nature of the book and Krishna's writing style, which is as easy and relaxed as if you were talking to colleagues over a beer at the end of the day about the latest trends in business. One can only hope that this beer did not come from a tap with a display.

The lecture:
The book on

Felix Hübner


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