Interface Design Tip: Jot Your Thoughts

Interface Design Tip: Jot Your Thoughts. i’ve gotten started on the development of my first hosted web app,
and have discovered my first simple but useful tip. Jot down your
thoughts and ideas on each interface decision.

It Forces You to Think

me, I’ve found that by writing a paragraph or some bullet points, I
come up with ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise. It also helps to expose
oversights and logic errors. This only takes me about 30 seconds per
feature, but it dramatically increases the amount of quality thought I
put into its implementation. Any more than 30 seconds or a minute, and
it’s a waste of time. Once it’s implemented, chances are you’re going
to need to make other changes.

For Future Reference

constantly making decisions this way, and often, when revisited, I
can’t remember why I decided one way or the other. Now, as soon as I
think about a feature or interface design decision, I hop onto Basecamp
and type up my thoughts. We especially had this problem when I worked
on larger teams. We would discuss our options and make a decision, but
a month later we found a reason to change it and couldn’t remember our
original reasoning.

In my case, where I’m the only person on
the team, I have my thoughts documented for future reference when I
start to second-guess my decisions. However, in the case of a team,
opening up these thoughts to a little discussion gives you the added
benefit of occasionally helping to uncover new options and

Line of Questioning

I generally ask
myself the same questions, and they immediately get my wheels spinning.
In some cases, I’ve even realized that the feature is completely
pointless and can be handled in other ways.

  • What (or who) else will this decision affect or touch?
  • Why do I really want to do this?
  • How can this be handled in a simpler fashion?
  • How will this confuse the people who see it?

that the questions are all open-ended and presume that my decision is
bad. This makes it an uphill battle for me and forces me to think


By quickly writing down my basic
thoughts, I force myself to spend a little extra time thinking through
my problem before moving on to the next step, and it helps me when I
revisit that feature in later phases. It’s important not to overthink
things, and generally, I’ve found that spending more than a minute
starts to make the excersise less valuable because I start to over
analyze the problem.  [Garrett Dimon]

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