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Great technology is transparent

iStock_000004728491XSmall.jpgDo you remember what the web looked like in 1995? Do you remember the pain it took to dial up and wait for the page to load? Do you remember early email systems like Pine? If you do, you know what highly visible technology feels like. You basically had to write code to make some of the things work and the experience was clunky and hard to manage.

Contrast your experience in 1995 to today. Your network is likely always on, surfing happens in seconds and your mail is a natural extension of your body (well, almost). You don't think about the technology behind Twitter, you just use it. You don't think about the hosting infrastructure behind Facebook, it's just there for you.

If you look at the Web2.0 movement and the development of social technologies, it's all about making the technology disappear. The less we think about our interactions the better the experience.

Ways to spot unnecessary technology:


  • If your site was designed by a developer, chances are this is abundant
  • If you have to think about options before you click, you need to simplify
  • If you have to do any type of calculation in your head, you need to clarify
  • If your site is 100% in Flash, you're probably dead on mobile platforms

What other ways can you spot unnecessary technology?

Take a look at the experience you create for your customers. Look at it across platforms (mobile, web, applications, widget, etc.) and ask yourself if you have to think about the technology. If you do notice it, you need to look at alternatives to improve. Can you make the process shorter, more simple or just generally more enjoyable?

How would you rate the experience with technology at the following sites? Does the technology get out of your way or do you have to think about it?


  • Amazon.com
  • Apple.com
  • Moo.com
  • GetSatisfaction.com
  • Twitter.com
  • MySpace.com
  • Facebook.com
  • Your local newspaper site
  • Your website

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