Tuesday, May 16, 2006



A certain fatigue sets in when the ear repeatedly hears something artificial, and the brain keeps trying to interpret it.

I'm tired of the phrase "compelling" used to describe interaction. It isn't simply a overworked cliche, it is perversion of reality. I hear so many people in the user research and design space talk about designing "compelling user experiences," but I never hear actual users talk about wanting "compelling" experiences. They talk about finding interfaces as fun, or interesting, or useful, but not "compelling." To speak of something as fun is to speak of it from a natural ego-centric perspective: I have fun. To speak of something as compelling is to speak of it from object-centric perspective: I am compelled, by forces beyond my control.

My wariness is not simply a philosophical quibble. All this hype about compelling user experiences sounds like mindless corporate propaganda. Researchers and designers sound like zombies when talking about compelling experiences, and make users sound like zombies too. Let's strike the word from our speech, please.

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