The Best Interface Is No Interface
The simple path to brilliant technology
by Golden Krishna
THE BOTTOM LINE
A thorough rehab for digital interface addicts. A call-to-action to fight the obsession of all things digital: screens, apps and websites, and to refocus on solutions.
Our love affair with the digital interface is out of control. We’ve embraced it in the boardroom, the bedroom, and the bathroom.
Screens have taken over our lives. Most people spend over eight hours a day staring at a screen, and some “technological innovators” are hoping to grab even more of your eyeball time. You have screens in your pocket, in your car, on your appliances, and maybe even on your face. Average smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day, responding to the addictive buzz of Facebook or emails or Twitter.
Are you sick? There’s an app for that! Need to pray? There’s an app for that! Dead? Well, there’s an app for that, too! And most apps are intentionally addictive distractions that end up taking our attention away from things like family, friends, sleep, and oncoming traffic.
There’s a better way.
In this book, innovator Golden Krishna challenges our world of nagging, screen-based bondage, and shows how we can build a technologically advanced world without digital interfaces.
In his insightful, raw, and often hilarious criticism, Golden reveals fascinating ways to think beyond screens using three principles that lead to more meaningful innovation. Whether you’re working in technology, or just wary of a gadget-filled future, you’ll be enlighted and entertained while discovering that the best interface is no interface.
In this funny and sometimes sarcastic book, designer Golden Krishna seems to be asking a universal question:
When there’s a means to an end, shouldn’t we care more about the end, instead of becoming obsessive about exactly the means itself?
To put the question in context: What are digital interfaces created for? Why do they exist? Who or what do they serve? Why do we need an app? A website? A product? Even an experience? And fundamentally: what problems are we trying to solve?
The lament is very similar to what Don Norman has mentioned in more than one occurrences, that user experience is not about how many features a product has – it is and should always be about how well a product can solve the user’s problems with minimal effort, and pleasantly.
While the author is very picky about the screens (digital graphical user interfaces), the root problem is not about the screens. We humans are just easy to get distracted and we easily become addicted viscerally and psychologically. We tend to lose the awareness of the forest in appreciating one specific tree.
The root problem is about our focus and how to refocus. That focus is always about solving problems and make the world a better place. When adding a bunch of screens, apps and whatever digital wizardry is not necessarily the best way to do it, they don’t have to be.
Some may find it a bit too extreme to suggest that “the best interface” should be “no interface”, but the author actually explains it perfectly, albeit too late in the book:
“The best interface is no interface” doesn’t mean the only outcome should be no interface, it means the best possible outcome is no interface. …Less isn’t always more, but “less is more” is an effective Modernist design philosophy.
So it’s actually something similar to Occam’s Razor in spirit.
The premise of the book is best summarized by a paragraph at the end of the book:
The real power of “the best interface is no interface” is as a call to action. As a philosophy. It’s not about flat design or skeuomorphic. Web or mobile. This is about aiming for the best outcome of NoUI. One that doesn’t distract us or try to get us addicted, something that embraces the way we live and aims to make it better quietly and elegantly. For technology to become embedded in the fabric of our lives instead of a distraction away from what really matters.
This book is very likely to be one that leaves a small but thought-provoking mark in a reader’s mind.
Refocus. And attack the context first.