Today I gave Becky her birthday gift. I got her a guitar stand and a new hat. The perfect combo to help someone move into a new place, a new level of interest in an old skill and a new look/persona to go with the music.
When she walked into the living room and saw it you could see that her eyes new it was for her Birthday. But she asked me anyway:
Is is for me? for my birthday? It didn’t have a bow on it so I did not know.
Perhaps my minimalist approach is not to her finely tuned gift receiving taste, but it did make me think: “Do we as humans need visual metadata?” Is the bow the metadata needed to tell here that this is a gift? or is it extraneous information? If we, as humans, need visual metadata in our 3-D physical environments do we also need visual metadata to process content we encounter on the web? This should have some impact on UX design and information architecture. A more library-ish hide-the-metadata as if it were a separation of style and content is not exactly suitable for the communicative level needed for people to make rapid and accurate assessments of content.
Back in the real world; Becky noticed the tag was still on the hat and said: You left the tag on the hat. To which I promptly replied: You know, it is incase the hat does not fit – then I am going to take it back and get one which does fit!
Functional does not mean people will want to own it. In someways functional is the worst enemy of useful.
That is, it is Becky does not feel as if it is her hat until the tag is off of the hat. So, similarly if a website still makes the user feel like they are not in someway committed to the website then will feel as if they have been presented with something, but not yet involved in something. – Just as as hat sets the stage for a persona, until the is involved in a website the website builder is not going to have the desired communicative interaction they desire.
The website will end up like this mug. It was the vase for the first flowers I bought Becky after we were married. I left the flowers in the mug on her desk as a surprise, the suppress to me was that she thought that the best man in our wedding got her the flowers! – So now the mug sits there with odd trinkets and pins in it. Neither of us really know what to do with it.