Purity in the digital form

The announcement and showcasing of iOS7 from Apple this week heralded a significant shift in thinking about interface design.

Key to all this was the ditching of the skeuomorphic elements that have littered iOS and MacOS since the dawn of the Graphical User Interface. This isn’t a trend that Apple started by any means, but I think it represent a shift in the mainstream conception of our digital environments.

Matt Gemmell wrote an insightful post and perfectly summarised this change:

The new iOS is designed for a different environment, and a different maturity of mobile user.

iOS7 represents a homecoming – where device, user and interface are finally bought together. They have grown separately, creating new paradigms, overturning conventions, creating new opportunities and now they finally meet and merge.

The other point I picked up from Matt’s pieces was how ios7 is:

a shift away from artefact, and back to essence.

This is a far more refined (and beautiful) way of thinking, building and designing in the digital realm. It’s what I have been unable to articulate, but matches my thinking around developing digital content – it must be about the content and the user and no longer focused on the artefact. To me this is the central concept for working in the digital realm.

My last postwas an attempt to outline bringing some of these ideas into publishing. Dumping the traditional analogue ways of thinking that slows us down, impedes our growth – and I believe that Apple are now proceeding down this path. For those working with content and developing products and systens in digital spaces we perhaps can take a few points about our user experience of working in this environment:

In the field of user experience, there’s a huge and unhelpful overemphasis on similarity, familiarity, and the ability to formally reason about interfaces. People are more nuanced. We respond based not only on experience or reason, but also on emotion and intuition.

I think it’s time that purely digital concepts, ideas and methods begin to emerge from their cocoon. To remake their pudgy caterpillar selves into beautiful, delicate and specialised butterflies.

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