Finding UI inspiration in the everyday.

Finding inspiration in the everyday.

Often when I'm working on a certain aspect of the UI design phase for while I sometimes find analogies in everyday occurrences that I can relate back to the current UI I'm working on. It doesn't matter if it's a good or bad experience it's all part of drawing information and ideas outside the context that you're working in. I may look at it and work out how could this be improved or what makes this a good experience.

It's true with everything though, the more interest you take in something the more you notice it, and the greater the detail you notice it with.

Outside of the software paradigm i see most comparisons of UI design in ergonomics, and the layout of spaces both indoor and out. I guess the usability of a screen and how we interact with physical environment and spaces contain very similar aspects.

I was at a friends house the other day and I made myself a coffee I was standing in the middle of the kitchen in front of the sink. They had the kettle to the right of the sink followed by the refrigerator and the Coffee/Tea/Sugar to the left of the sink. All of these things you can not reach without taking a few steps. (Figure 1)

The process was very jagged, there was no thought to how these items were placed in the kitchen to allow one to make a coffee in a streamlined manner.

Ideally they would of had the coffee/tea/sugar/kettle sitting to the right of the sink where the fridge was as this was the only element that could not be relocated. It's spot in the kitchen was fixed. (Figure 2)

Doing this would streamline the process ensuring an efficient use of space and the users time.

Immediately I thought of a UI that I had been working on. Is the process streamlined enough? does the user have to search the screen? and move the cursor too far between related elements to achieve their main goal?

Then I started thinking about Feng Shui for UI design, but that's another topic.

The point of this is that there is more than your run of the mill ways to gain inspiration for user interface interaction and design.

Things happen every day and our experiences we have are ever changing, I feel that being able to relate elements outside contexts is very important. I find it's a way for me to stay inspired irrelevant of the industry.

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Rob McKeown's Gravatar I had a similar realization at a McDonald's recently. I noticed that after taking my order the cashier had to walk about 12 feet along the front and then down the side of the kitchen to get my fries. Then, to get an ice cream cone the cashier could just turn directly around. I couldn't help but think, "Don't more people order fries than ice cream?" My friend pointed out that a lot goes into the plumbing and venting of the equipment that dictates their placement.

While I understand that to an extent, it sounds an awful lot like a developer saying "it would be easier if we just used a grid of data rather than an interactive chart". I bet gourmet kitchens are arranged to meet the needs of chefs despite what is easier to build.
# Posted By Rob McKeown | 12/15/08 8:39 AM
Ben's Gravatar Nice observation Rob. I'd probably say the McDonalds kitchen layout compared to a gourmet kitchen layout is like comparing a kit home to an architecturally designed beach house. The kitchen layout probably hasn't changed since it was first developed. One size fits all, and more of a data driven approach then a design driven approach.
# Posted By Ben | 11/30/09 11:51 PM
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