Every January in Las Vegas, tens of thousands of technology people gather in a vast convention hall for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which has been the largest industrial show held anywhere in the world. In 2012, I was struck by what I saw there. It was as if Steve Jobs had been consulted by one company after another after another to help them conceive and craft products that were born out of a clear corporate vision. Sure, I was seeing plenty of the usual run-of-the-mill, copycat “Our competitor has one of these, so now we’re offering our own just to keep up.” But I was also seeing plenty of Apple-inspired products that showed a true vision.
And what was the distinguishing mark of the vision products? Easy: a well-thought-out, well-conceived user interface. At one booth after another, people were actually using that term: user interface.
In other words, ease of use—which also includes users being readily able to understand what they can do with the product. Think what the telephone became in our lives. It became a device run by incredibly complex technology, yet you never have to think about the technology. When the phone rings, you just pick it up and answer—you don’t even give it a second thought.
In a similar way, when you get in your car, you turn the key and just drive off. You don’t need to know anything about the flow of gasoline into the engine, or the pistons driving up and down, or adjusting the gas/air mixture, ...