Replicating Physical Constraints in Digital Products

Although realistic user interface elements allow people to quickly form accurate mental models, these elements also restrict what you can do. In his essay “Overdoing the interface metaphor,” Instapaper developer Marco Arment pinpoints the issue:[64]

It’s important to find the balance between real-world reproduction and usability progress. Physical objects often do things in certain ways for good reasons, and we should try to preserve them. But much of the time, they’re done in those ways because of physical, technical, economic, or practical limitations that don’t need to apply anymore.

Usability consultant Bruce Tognazzini agrees, noting that “in the hands of an amateur, slavish fidelity to ...

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