Recently A List Apart and Rands both covered, from somewhat different angles, the notion that much of great design is about details. As far back as I can remember, seeing a message like this has made me want to scream:
You have 1 new messages.
It would have taken the programmer seconds - literally, seconds - to add the conditional that would omit the plural when the number is 1. When I write such code, I also special-case 0, writing no instead of 0.
Coincidentally, just days before I read that Rands article, I'd added code to this blog to write Today and Yesterday in place of those dates, and to omit the year when the date falls in the current year. That has long been one of my favorite little design details. A couple of my other favorites are how in iTunes, it displays an image of the model and color of iPod that is presently docked (too bad the rest of iTunes is such a mess). And how my TV, in the final seconds before the sleep timer shuts it off, says good night.
Such details sometimes cost extra, especially with physical products. But that cost is often nominal, especially in the software world, as in the 1 message example above. Look for those kinds of opportunities and take advantage of them; they can help make the difference between a product and a thing of beauty.
Labels: design, details, programming