Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good design

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:IPod_classic_cropped.png -It's a beautiful thing... The iPod, to me, is one of the most brilliantly designed devices in recent memory. Everything about the iPod is just generally appealing; it feels good in my hand, it has a sleek look, it operates with ease, and it organizes and plays my favorite music. It strikes a perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality. But how does it manage this? The answer lies in its button layout. There are really only five buttons on the iPod, all of which are located either in or around a circle which allows the user to scroll through songs. The inexperienced user is almost immediately able to identify the purpose of each button simply through cultural constraints and knowledge in the head. The widely known symbols for play, pause, next, and previous make up three of the buttons, and the remaining buttons are menu and select. Although 'select' isn't labeled, as 'menu' conveniently is, the user is quickly able to realize the button's intended purpose. Once the buttons are understood and operation is underway, the iPod's natural mapping is unparalleled. The scroll circle is used for scrolling up and down the song list quickly, the select button is quite obviously used to select (as well as narrow down the menu), and the menu button is used to backtrack in the menu. The screen allows for proper visual feedback for where you are in the menu, and the music lets you know when you've selected the right song. That's pretty much it; a simple yet beautiful design which serves its purpose perfectly.

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