“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

What is an ugly interaction?

Today at work while working through a design during a scoping & requirements definition session with my internal stake holders, I found myself challenging my team because I felt the popular suggestion in the room (cant really talk about the design by committee situation I ended up in) was leading towards what I could only describe as an ugly interaction.

I know when I come back to the office tomorrow morning, Im going to be pressed to do a better job of expressing why I feel this way and what it means to be an ugly interaction.

What is sorta interesting about all this is that it is right on the tail of my discovery of a recent Jonas Lwgren piece on issues that effect the aesthetics of interaction design. So the concept of beauty of interactions was sorta on my mind today anyway. Ive also been arguing heavily on the IxDA.org discussion list (check the web site here) around what it takes to be an IxD and why UCD standard practices arent really all that helpful or revolutionary from the position of standard design theory. So designerly thinking was also on my mind.

So what was it that was so darn ugly and what made it ugly. In this case, Im pretty sure that it was the use of exception messaging when they really werent necessary. Creating a dead-end for an end-user when it REALLY isnt necessary or even through an inelegant method throwing a human being into an unexpected and possibly undesirable flow or context to me is well ugly and in this case, even FUGLY. (Let’s just say its a not nice way of saying VERY ugly.)

I dont have any general rules to derive from this design experience, but I feel it in my gut that there are collections of interaction types and points that when composed together just create ugly interaction types. It is something to be care for and something you should trust your gut about. Be on the look out and heck report them when you find them.

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