I just watched Endward Tufte’s video review of the iPhone and pulled out some interesting principles of UI design and usability. The inherent challenge of a designing for a small screen is the lack of screen real estate. To overcome that challenge, Apple gives their users a high resolution screen and amazing design to mange the information. Watch the video and see for yourself how the iPhone reduces cognitive overload by keeping information on just a levels rather than deeply stacked hierarchies.
One thing that Tufte says repeatedly as both a compliment and criticism is how Apple manages “screen-hogging computer administrative debris.” If it’s not necessary to navigate within a page, it’s just taking up space.
Another principle he suggests is that clutter and confusion are not attributes of information, but failures of design. If confusion exists, fix the design.
My natural tendency is to strip away elements in order to simplify a design. Tufte suggests the opposite. He says, “To clarify add detail.”
It’s amazing the things you can learn from an expert observer.