Monthly Archives: May 2006

User Interface Thought

I was reading – OK skimming – a book about user interface design. Much of the theme was that too much UI mirrors the underlying design, rather than the users’ mental model. Which I completely agree with. But then the author (whose name I’ve already forgotten, along with the book title) at one point gave the example of that when you drag a file in Windows to somewhere on the same drive, the file is moved, but if you drag it to another drive, it’s copied.

He said this was bad design – reflecting that in the first case, the file doesn’t need to be copied; just the pointer updated, but in the second case, a copy needs to be made.

I’d always thought this was excellent design – when I drag a file to a different folder on my hard drive, I almost always want it moved, but when I drag it to my backup flash memory card, or to a CD or to the network, I usually do want it copied.

I don’t know which explanation is right, and maybe it’s even both (the design originally came from the function, but then someone realized what a good idea it was and left it in, maybe even adding the changing mouse pointer to help users understand what’s going on), but I hope no one reads the book and decides to “fix” it.


This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.