Tasting menus are meticulously designed by chefs to give diners the best culinary experience possible. Nothing is left to chance. Each item listed on the menu is chosen specifically to present an overall theme or cuisine from start to finish. There are no substitutions, there are no “May I have this on the side?” There is just what the chef wants you to eat and sometimes even drink. You drink this while you eat that and you’ll like it. It’s a well thought out plan, a work of art, it’s what a master of their craft wants you to experience from the moment you sit down at the table to the moment you leave. We as designers have a lot to learn from tasting menus.
I find myself time and time again using a web service or app that starts out great but with time I find it’s value decreases. Or for that matter I start using a service, and decide that it isn’t for me. Then, a couple months later someone is talking up a storm about how amazing this one service is and to be honest - it sounds amazing and like everything I want! When I’m told what the service or app is it’s something I tried months ago. I wasn’t using it the way it was intended to so it served no purpose to me (more about this on my previous post http://bit.ly/lostsrvcs).
Why is that I enjoyed Twitter far more 2 years ago than I do today? My followers count has increased by 1,000 maybe even more but why should that matter? Or better yet, why was I allowed to destroy my own experience? Funny enough, there’s a Twitter feature which could have easily let me enjoy Twitter the same way I enjoyed it 2 years ago - and that’s Twitter lists. When I’ve reached a point where the number of incoming tweets per second I have in my stream exceed a particular limit why wasn’t I prompted to create a new list or better yet, why wasn’t a list created for me? It could have been populated with Twitter usernames which I reply to often.
None of this happened, not even a little bit. I think I remember Twitter lists being explained to me at one point when they were released. Something about I could create lists now but no reason for why I should or how it could enhance my experience. Had I known it could recreate what Twitter was for me in the past I would have created a list the very second it was released.
Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Paola Antonelli recently held an exhibit at the MoMA titled Talk To Me which highlights and emphasizes the importance of what Paola calls script. Paola says, “The message of Talk to Me is that designers today cannot just think of form, function, and meaning. They also have to think of script. Now, as a designer, you really have to think of how those objects are going to interact with people. Of course, this comes naturally to interface and interaction designers, but not as much to product designers or furniture designers—but they all have to learn that this is what’s necessary today.”
Paola is talking about traditional designers - but, the truth is while we as interface, interaction, and even game designers do think more about the form, function, and meaning of our creation the concept of an infinite script is still relatively new to us. It’s something which we have yet to progress very far in but it’s still our responsibility.
It’s time we start to think of the never-ending script. We must deliver a complete experience during the existence of a service or product that doesn’t differ or break what we want our “diner” to experience. We must design an experience which will be the best for them - regardless of what they have to say. They will do this like that because that’s the best way to experience what we’re trying to create. And if they don’t like it, well there are plenty of other apps or services they can flock to.
Side Note: In case someone thinks I hate Twitter after reading this, I do not. I love Twitter. It just happened to be a rather mainstream example that I thought would resonate well with anyone reading this.