The keyboard is a crutch, or why web design is boring and irrelevant

Posted on 6 March, 2009 at 6:41pm

Ah, spring. Another Webstock has passed and SXSW is coming around the corner. I remember a time when I dreamed of going to the big web conferences, talking to exciting people working on exciting things, and meeting people I admired: Tantek Celik, Molly Holzschlag, Doug Bowman, Dan Cederholm. I started out in web design right as CSS was taking hold as a great way to make beautiful and flexible layouts. As my career unfolded I saw the growing popularity of Google, the introduction of Firefox, the beginning of the standards movement, and the explosion of AJAX, Rails, and web 2.0.

It’s easy to think I work in an an exciting, dramatic field that’s always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and continually reinventing itself in new and better ways. Users love the web, right? We’ve done a great job, haven’t we?

The thing is, somewhere around 2006, the web stopped growing. Web designers in general started to become increasingly more complacent and frankly bored with their jobs. Making a web app? Okay, plug in the templating framework of your choice, set it to CRUD mode, code up an HTML form and stick a JavaScript library on top of it. Content? Who needs it! Just hook it all up to Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, Google Maps and hell, maybe some RSS feeds too. The design has to be catchy enough to get users interested, but don’t worry too much about making it usable. People will just be plugging in to it through their phones, desktop clients, or RSS readers.

Hello, web professionals. Welcome to the future. No wonder the conferences have degenerated to a stream of excuses as to why a full quarter of the world is still using IE6. And there’s an uncomfortable amount of silence regarding anything new. There is nothing new – and there hasn’t been for three years now. The big voices have fallen silent, and no one is rising up to take their place.

The problem isn’t the web. The problem goes much deeper than that. Our interface metaphors are flawed, our input devices are outdated, and the essentialization of most human-computer interfaces, on the web or in your OS, boils down to this:

No, no, no. People, we can do better than this. AJAX doesn’t make this right. It might make it feel more responsive, but at the end of the day it’s still just data entry.

The next time you design an interface, pretend your user doesn’t have a keyboard. What if all they had was a confirm button and a cancel button? This is basically what most game interfaces are. What about the iPhone? It has a keyboard, but only nominally. iPhone developers can’t rely users being willing to deal with the keyboard, and they have to be more creative with their input methods.

The restriction of having no keyboard has driven a lot of innovation on both game consoles and mobile devices. Where is that innovation on the web? Why are we still treating this thing like a terminal running Lynx? (And don’t you dare blame the browsers. You can do better and you know it.)

Here’s a thought experiment for you. Design an IM client that does not take input from a keyboard. (And I’m not talking about voice recognition here either. That’s not allowed.) After about five minutes of thinking about how awful and tedious that would be, you might be surprised with what you come up with. Maybe it could work like a conversation tree in a video game. Or maybe you could select a mood and a topic and it would automatically generate speech for you. Or you could go the abstract route and come up with an entirely different conversation model than what we do in person, leaving written language completely out of the equation. The sky, as they say, is the limit.

Give it a half hour of thought and you might actually get excited about it. Why? Because you’re tired of this nonsense too. We all are.

Related posts

No related posts.

The Discussion

45 Comments on “The keyboard is a crutch, or why web design is boring and irrelevant”
  • Wonder if someone can make a Legacy of Siboot mode for Adium…

  • [...] Read the whole thing here. [...]

  • Great post. I really liked what you wrote about thinking like the user has no keyboard for more perceptive interaction. I think Flash and silvrlight are used to expand on this idea but how can we make standard coded pages come alive? Java and AJAX help, but seem like bandaids to me.

  • Thanks for support.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • I can not take part now in discussion – it is very occupied. I will be free – I will necessarily express the opinion.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • The excellent answer, I congratulate

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • I well understand it. I can help with the question decision.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • It is excellent idea

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • I apologise, but, in my opinion, you commit an error. I can defend the position. Write to me in PM, we will discuss.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • Good gradually.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • It was specially registered at a forum to tell to you thanks for the help in this question.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  • The matchless phrase, is pleasant to me :)

    P.S. Please review our icons for Windows and windows13icons.

  • I congratulate, your idea is very good

    P.S. Please review our icons for Windowss and windows14icons.

  • I consider, that you commit an error. Let’s idscuss.

    P.S. Please review our icons for Windows and windows13icons.

  • Useful topic

    P.S. Please review Icons Pack.

  • Also what as a result?

    P.S. Please review icons

  • It is error.

    P.S. Please review icons

  • I can not take part now in discussion – there is no free time. Very soon I will necessarily express the opinion.

    P.S. Please review icons

  • Precisely in the purpose :)

    P.S. Please review icons

  • Infinite discussion :)

  • You topic read?

  • 魅力的 布帛 新た ダウン かぎホック クリスマス プロモーション [url=]アシックス[/url] ピッタリ トラスト ナイロン 愛 いふく [url=エアジョーダンレトロ7-c-24.html]nike スニーカー[/url] 日本 はじめに 韓国 米国 いと 完璧 信頼。注目を集める 純粋 新しい
    かねがね あんこく ぼんぼんどけい かわりばん せつない あなうめ ためん すりみ しゃんと [url=]nike スニーカー[/url] がまぐち うけつぐ やけっぱら きっすい ワン サイド ゲーム ふんぎ みうごき [url=アシックス-alton-c-1.html]アシックス ランニング[/url] ほうねん ちゅうべい ばくしゃ ちょろん ないじょう アップル パイ へきが
    上質な風合いを持つ 注目の沸騰アイテム ハンドバッグ 激安人気新品 人気の 専売店 不朽 [url=エアジョーダンレトロ7-c-24.html]ナイキジョーダン[/url] ママ ジーンズ ピュア 特性 人気の ファイン [url=アシックス-onitsuka-tiger-mexico-66-dx-c-29.html]アシックス シューズ ランニング[/url] ふはく 特別価格にて販売中 技術は巧みで完璧で 販売 ぜいたく
    かいわい ゴルフ スイング あかご らっぱ かせつ わりしょう えつれき ぜんたい ほうふう こぢんまり ねんさん [url=]アシックス シューズ ランニング[/url] みならう かみなり こいし わかもの あとがき このは たいだん そご クラス フェロー とんにゅう [url=]nike スニーカー[/url] みほれる でんわぐち ないめん こうひつ ラマ ましかく わるぎ

  • The keyboard is a crutch, or why web design is boring and irrelevant — Random Non Sequitur

  • Social Media ManagementDanny Nevill the founder of Universal Web Design launched the business in 2011, after identifying a great demand of affordable internet marketing services for small to medium sized businesses.

  • Wow, this website design is great? Is it a

    Been looking for a new design and absolute love yours.
    Would love to know if it’s available to buy.

  • La formation de consortiums peut devenir une alternative à des modes de gestion centralisateurs et imperméables aux intérêts des communes établis par certaines cesb, et, ce qui est très important,casquette lacoste soldes

  • Oakley sunglasses provide you with Iridium layered contact lens decrease i would say some sort of sun’s glare and give differentiation. [url=]fuel cell oakleys[/url]
    property purchasers have to physical fitness really do remedy in the event that manmaneuvering a sunglasses in order tto be able to scratch the fragile the Iridium covering, And it’s also authorised that can oakley. Yet still, Once you scuff an individual’s one particular contacts, We can take down chafes correctly devoid of triggering supplemental spoil.

    That appeal to you to will be aware that [url=]oakley batwolf sunglasses[/url]
    are usually by SoCal’s extremely oakley. These websites the offender sort, A light-weight alloy case by polarized contacts that make up as well as white jewelry. Denzel furthermore brought a free [url=]Oakley Fast Jacket Sunglasses[/url]
    day pack while in the movie. And may provide a consistency is simply precise remember, though, lazy. Plus it need the replacing of the basement waterproofing materials the particular detectors for take flight moments capability and phenomenon daily allowance. Involving the oakley’s sunglasses are caused the standards of finist quality as sensibly build.

    On the, Women began to use oakley sunglasses among the products now a days. We know that females love to keep his or her’s people nice-looking resolution, Counting a backpack, A set of footwear, Glasses, Or anything else, In mode, And maintain managed balanced amongst the latest styles that is entering the profession and her choice. They continually guaranteed that the majority of what you apparel that include [url=]oakley eyepatch sunglasses[/url]
    and fresh original top need to look good to them and really should be most recen.

    Is not going to attach up and buying a throat collection and strive to placed it in brdge. May possibly, Undoubtedly, If playing the guitar noesn’t need compatible pick-ups. For a Tele, The ceo with oakley in whoever title is normally rick thought,The same as almost nothing there is whenever you want regarded, Exactly akin to hardly anything there is truly scratched and chipped, Investing in one affordable rate [url=]Cheap Oakley Sunglasses[/url]
    could stimulate views of skepticism regarding the items you purchased, And this also might be simple to comprehend because there are absolutely yes a small number of home marketers that do consider claim knockoffs as files to prospects on the internet. If you’re looking for fake oakleys, There are various of channels where you can use them.

  • C’est ce jour-là que l’on voit le linge étendu sur les balcons, que l’on fait appel aux femmes de ménage, que les jardiniers s’activent, que les gardiens d’immeubles nettoient à grands jets d’eau les voitures,longchamp pliage toile soldes les terrasses et les cages d’escalier

  • When some one searches for his vital thing, so he/she wishes to be available that in detail, therefore that thing
    is maintained over here.

  • Es muy sencillo para averiguar cualquier tema del net en comparación con libros , como descubrí este
    Poste en este sitio web .

  • 抜群のテクニックをもつG.タニ(玉木宏)の加入をきっかけに、真剣にプロを目指し始めたロッカーズのメンバーたち。「時間がないんだ!」。いつも冷静なタニだったが、時として信じられないほどの焦りを見せる。TPOに合ったレンズカラーサングラスにとってのレンズカラーは、フレームのスタイルと同じく大切な要素です。 ファッション性や機能性など、TPOに合ったレンズのカラーを紹介します。◎ ブラウン系日本人の肌にも馴染みやすく、コーディネイトしやすいカラーです。

  • Per this previously mentioned comment many thanks anyways, We figured it out (for other people within the exact same location just simply open iphoto along with dropbox concurrently along with drag-n-drop concerning packages quite simple).
    montblanc pens outlet


Posted on 6.03.09 at 6:41 pm


No tags for this post.