Designer Frank Chimero purchased aspirin and noticed the pills were smaller than he remembered. Upon researching it on the internet he discovered that the pharmaceutical companies have been able to improve it so much that the amount of aspirin in a pill is so minuscule you need to pad it with filler just so you can pick it up to swallow it. “When I read that, it occurred to me that we’ve been living through a similar situation with computers. I mean, have you looked at technology recently and taken stock? Things have changed under us. We take it for granted, because the transition was so fast and thorough.”
Technology has made the devices smaller, and software is the padding that allows us to grab them. “The interfaces we build are where we put the padding. You give a user something to grasp onto when you make a metaphor solid. In the case of software on a screen, the metaphors visually explain the functions of an interface, and provide a bridge from a familiar place to a less known area by suggesting a tool’s function and its relationship to others.” The trash bin a perfect example. If we have something to dispose of in our homes, it goes in the trash, and if we get rid of that picture or file on our computer we know it will be in that trash bin until we empty it.
Read the entire essay, What Screens Want by Frank Chimero, and how it relates to digital design here.