The Magic of Developing an Intuitive User Interface

MIKE DUNCAN of Soliant offers interesting comparisons of intuitive user interfaces to magical tricks.  And he’s got a point:  a great user interface will seem like magic to the end user.  Things that were error prone and difficult before seem to just work now.   While magic deals in deception, user interface deals in human perception:

“Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years.” – Teller

Magician, entertainer and critical thinker, Teller, of the famous duo Penn & Teller, was recently interviewed bySmithsonian Magazine. In it, he discusses several principles used to manipulate his audience. Magicians have been doing this for hundreds, make that thousands of years. What they are really doing is studying human psychology in order to exploit it to their own needs.

This got me thinking about the psychology of software development in particular. There are some similarities shared with the points outlined that he utilized as a magician, and the problems we face in developing software with intuitive user interface.

Much of what goes into an intuitive user interface is process.  Ask lots of questions, come back to the processes from different angles, and get the end users to buy in before you design the interface.  The goal, after all, is to make their life easier while improving the data collection process.  Without their feedback and buy-in, you won’t succeed.

The Psychology of Developing Software.


photographer padawan *(xava du) Foter CC BY-NC-ND

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