Constraints expose compromises, and we can judge products (and their designers) by the apparent wisdom of those compromises. Some are barely noticeable, like a laptop that lacks the (bizarrely prevalent) hardware wi-fi toggle switch. Some are minor inconveniences, like a badly-placed USB port. But some are thwarting. There are some compromises that sabotage the promise of the device. The ultrabook with an awkward and RSI-exacerbating keyboard. The tablet with a narrow field of view. The smartphone with a poor touch-screen.

These aren’t compromises, but rather flaws.

Great article.

  • We’ve had many discussions on constraints here. Constraints can brilliant. It’s the difference between something simple and elegant and something powerful but complex and (probably) broken in some way.

    One of the reasons I love Nintendo so much is that the constraints are written into the plot of the game. Any game developer can throw a thirty second loading screen into in to load resources, but Nintendo can (usually) keep you occupied on that loading screen thinking you’re actually playing the game.

    Consider the modern Zelda games. On many of them, you’re actually playing through elaborate loading screens and having fun doing it. There’s no reason, for instance, for you to fall from the sky in Skyward Sword and have to parachute at the right moment other than the game is actually still loading as you fall. But I’m not even really sure this is the case. I just don’t remember a loading screen, but when you start falling the game hasn’t loaded, but when you land the game is obviously fully loaded. What comes between? I think it’s that parachute drop. It’s so completely simple.

    Anyway, will read article later. Thanks for the link. 🙂