The Invisible Interface

When people think of design, often they think of visual design: how things look. When I’m designing Stride, that’s a big part of my job, but design isn’t fundamentally an aesthetic exercise — it’s a functional one. 

The part of Stride’s interface that I’m the happiest with right now is the interface for choosing your timezone. You’d expect that to look something like this:

It’s not too bad, and it’s far and away the easiest solution to implement, but we’re asking the user to make a decision. As a user, each decision I have to make while using an app, however minor, is keeping me from using the app for whatever inspired me to sign up for it in the first place. It’s metawork.

Our solution on Stride is to have no visible interface at all. We do a bit of magic to find your computer’s timezone (by politely asking your browser), and we use that.

Traveling? Not a problem: it’ll be updated automatically the next time you log in. No matter where you are, your reminders and weekly emails will be waiting for you at the start of your work day.

We’ve removed the burden of decision from the user, and given them a little more time to be productive using the app. It’s the easiest thing in the world to fill your app with checkboxes and radio buttons, but each one has a cost.

As the guy in charge of making sure Stride is easy to use, my honest hope is that you’ve never given a moment’s thought to how your emails show up at 7am every morning. I am in total agreement with inestimable Dieter Rams: good design is as little design as possible.

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