GPS should make people feel better of themselves, so as other softwares.

Posted on April 17, 2009


Yesterday at Hugh Dubberly‘s class, Chris, Paul, Phil, Kyle and I were studying some UX theories.

For some reason Chris began to complain how much he hated his Garmin GPS: It apparently gives him sort of connivence and freedom of exploring a city, but at the same time it makes him lose the ability of way-finding, as he said he wouldn’t be able to make anywhere without his GPS in Pittsburgh, where he already spent two years in his life. As he begins to be dependent upon a tool, his life choices are restricted to a certain level, and the original good feeling diminishes – Well, I have the same feeling about my iPhone before I abandoned it.

People talked about GPS like this all the time. However, it makes us think, what is the criteria of a good software?

I think a good software needs to “perform” two fundamental functions:

A. Functions as a tool to help people accomplish tasks in its most convenient and considerate way.

B. Empowers people to feel better of themselves. Let people have a better control of their life, meaning, a GPS has the responsibility to make people feel they are a good driver, not some stupid followers that obey a machine.

A good and successful software = A + B

A quick example is Pandora, whenever I express dislikes for a song, it responses this way” Thank you, I’ll never play this song again”, it flatters me in a strange way, and it just makes me feel fabulous, even it never speaks like”You are so right about this damn song, I totally agree with you, how about let’s play something with taste, my master?”

One thing I don’t like User centered design is that users are given too much meaningless burden, either for concept generation or usability testing, however, in real life users adapt to what they already have, and its’ interaction designers’ responsibility to make the software more humane. I appreciate brave designers impose their own bold visions onto a product, which is a more artistic way of designing softwares – make the users your audience to enjoy the performances, at the same time, give their the authority to twist the product better.