The Plywood at the Back

Cap Watkins on what he calls the dark corners of user interfaces — designs that have clearly been rushed, with content being thrown on the page but no attention given to presentation and polish:

[…] the discovery of that UI got me thinking about all the dark corners in our software we let sit and rot away. These are the parts of our flows that either aren’t immediately ROI positive or are hidden from us because they’re either edge cases or a part of the product we just don’t see very often. I challenge you to take a fresh look at the following pages/flows in your product:

  • New user on-boarding.
  • Empty states (particularly for new users).
  • Password and email resets.
  • Email confirmation prompts.
  • Emails you’re sending.
  • User Settings.
  • Closing an account.

This reminds me of something Steve Jobs said:

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

author picture Written by Dmitry Fadeyev
Published on May 8, 2014