Don Norman Weighs in on Mobile Design and Usability

Mobile Design and UsabilityGetting to pick an expert’s brain is always exciting and insightful. We do it on a monthly basis on the uTest Software Testing Blog as part of our Testing the Limits series (this month we spoke to four experts – the board members of the newly founded International Society for Software Testing). Recently the folks over at GigaOm got to sit down with design guru Don Norman.

The man who wrote “the bible for design thinking and technology” and went so far as to say that bad design is downright dangerous has some interesting things to say about today’s technology and design. Here’s a snippet of the GigaOm interview:

Android. I think that the Android phones and Apple iOS phones are remarkably similar. There’s very little difference. The main difference is what religion you subscribe to: Do you subscribe to the religion of Apple or the religion of Google? Actually, I think Android in many ways is a copy of the Apple iPhone.

Apple has always exerted tremendous control over what you can do with their products. They control the hardware and the software and they are restrictive about the kind of apps that can run on it. Apple developers have a horrible time because they submit their app to Apple, Apple takes a long time and says ‘no,’ and it’s hard to figure out why they said ‘no.’

I don’t use the Apple phones because I don’t like the restrictive dictatorial policies Apple has instituted, so I went to Android because it’s more open. As a result of the openness, though, there’s a bit more chaos. Different apps work in different ways and are maybe not as reliable, but I still prefer the openness of Android. The truth is I use an iPad and I use an (iPod) Touch and I use an Android phone. But they’re all the same.

And just to get your a bit more worked up, here’s Don’s response when asked about Windows Phone:

I think Microsoft has sort of been left out of this battle. People forget they exist. I think that the Windows 8 for phones is really a better system than either the iPhone or the Android. I’m very impressed with what Microsoft has done. It’ll take them a few tries to get it right. Now it’s on version 2 — and version 3 is always Microsoft’s hotspot. And I think the new Surface tablets and new phones — they did not copy Android, they did not copy iPhone. They started over again. They understand discoverability. They understand some of these design principles and they use them.

There’s a lot more to this great interview discussing design and mobile (and a few other things). Be sure to read the whole thing at GigaOM >>>

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