Cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and other portable information/communication appliances all have buttons. For most tasks, the dominant way of interacting with these devices involves pressing buttons. The functionality of some buttons has become so multifarious that they seem like joysticksâ€”without the stick and without the joy.
The problem is: most button designs are poor, assuming that easy usability is the principal design goal. Somewhere along the line the device-design community developed the collective wisdom that the purpose of button design is to enhance the overall styleâ€”and sales attractivenessâ€”of the device. The result is a bunch of gadgets with buttons that elicit user responses ranging from confusion to open hostility. Read More »