Death to Word?

Not the written word, of course… just the application. At least that’s what Tom Socca is calling for in an article he posted last week on Slate called “Death to Word: It’s Time to Give up on Microsoft’s Word Processor.” While this might be a bit extreme, I have to agree with Socca on a few points.

Word’s menu bar looks like the dashboard of a commercial airliner…not a tool for processing words. And although I think I’ve finally figured out how to maneuver my way around most of its forced defaults (like the auto-formatted outlines, bulleted lists, and incorrect grammar alerts), I could certainly do without many of Word’s “helpful” options.

Throughout its many releases in the past decade, I’m afraid Word has fallen victim to “feature creep.”  Its functionality has overtaken its usability; its many features actually slow people down and keep them from performing what should be a very simple task: creating a document.  Sure, I guess it’s nice that Word gives me seventeen different options for cover pages. But do you know how many times I’ve used them? Not once.

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Design of Everyday Things: Fan/Light Fixture Pull Chords

In my last post, I talked about how I’ve become extremely conscious about the usability and “friendliness” of my software applications.  But I’ve also become more aware of the everyday objects I see and use, as well, especially after reading Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman.

In his preface to the 2002 edition of the text, Norman states that his goal, if nothing else, is to “show [the reader] how to take delight in good designs and to take umbrage at mediocre, thoughtless, inappropriate ones” (xv). And throughout the book, he stresses the importance of adhering to the basic design principles of “visibility, appropriate clues, and feedback of one’s actions” (9).

I happened upon an interesting example of this not too long ago. A friend of mine is remodeling his house, and while he was giving me a quick tour, I happen to notice the pull cords on his fan/light fixture. I started freaking out and immediately told him I needed a picture of it.

Fan/Light Fixture Pull Chords with Images of a Fan and Light Bulb

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