Design simplicity

There’s an article by Donald Norman that has been stirring up controversy online. Whereas last time I thought he was wrong, this time I think he’s right—mostly.

In general, he’s correct that people don’t buy the simple, well-designed stuff. Instead, they buy the stuff that looks like it has the most features; and they tell what that is by looking at how many settings and controls it has.

Not always, though. The best exception that proves the rule is the now almost ubiquitous iPod.

Headphone amplifier + iPod = delight

If you listen to portable audio equipment a lot, you’ve probably noticed that most portable units can barely drive a set of headphones. You have to crank the volume all the way up, and even then the sound is either distorted beyond recognition, or feeble and lacking in‘kick’. This is particularly an issue with MiniDisc units and very small MP3 players. The solution to the problem is simple: you need a headphone amplifier.