Less is the New More

The shortsighted approach: provide what is possible

Data and Content does come from somewhere. In addition, someday someone chose the content to be shown in an interface or on a website. The first impulse to this someone, especially within engineers is to show every data available and even beyond. Because data means value. Because why should you hide it from the user. Because you can. Hence, content is screwed up to a jungle of attention-seeking numbers and graphs. Good designs focus on core values, on key indicators. It sounds easy, but in the dispute with customers or in the inner dispute, it is definitely not easy. To repeat a universal truth: if something is easy to use, it was hard to design.

Introduction too meta? Here come examples. With pictures!

Content restrictions

SMS, the mail of the 90es, was restricted to 160 characters. Why? Because postcards and telegrams rarely exceeded this length and saving memory was technically necessary [1]. Its communication character is to be delivered immediately, but asynchronous. SMS got not only a part of everyday communication, it even applied socio-cultural effects like heavy usage of abbr. and emoticons =).

von Thomas van de Weerd from Utrecht, The Netherlands (Party SMS Uploaded by McGeddon) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

short message service, technically reduced [source]

14 years later, a service called twitter appeared as “SMS of the internet” and became quite successful. Tweets are still restricted to 140 characters, even if discussed repeatedly [2]. And again, this service had big impact to socio-culture: Hashtags became #famous and the @ outgrew e-mail. Now without technical reason, the character-restriction became one of the main factors of twitters success. User have to focus on their main message and reading times stay in the area of seconds. As well it is fast and asynchronous, but with a community factor aside.

I just fell down the stairs holding a guitar and accidentally wrote a One Direction song.

a tweet, conceptwise reduced [source]

Some new services take the concept of “less” in advantage to make it a unique selling point. An example is the dating app once, where, compared to the illustrious tinder, only one profile is shown per day [3]. They literally call their match “handselected” which should replace quantity with quality. Hence, reduction is part of the core concept of this product.

This was reducing the content. Let’s proceed with geography.

Regional restrictions

The App “Jodel”, an anonymous campus social chat only shows messages around your geobase [4]. This constraint creates another kind of exclusivity and a particular privacy.


jodel reduces information by the current area

Also nebenan.de, a German social network, detects the neighborhood coordinates and only lets user see people living nearby [5]. Here the concept focuses more on privacy based on a non-global connectivity.


nebenan, also regionally constrained

Time restrictions

The last app mentioned is snapchat, used daily by you if you belong to generation Z. This service is restricting “snaps” by time to several seconds [6]. Afterwards they can be re-played once and then are “self-destroyed”. Not knowing if the unicorn filter or the time reduction are reasons, but snapchat became most used communication app for teenagers [7].


snapchat, giving messages with expiration time

Link to the known

In interfaces, this concept is well known. Products like the iPod, the WMF 1 [by designaffairs] or the Nest reduce their interface to one interaction object. A minimal interface architecture is used [see article to interface architecture]. There are several concepts pushing this principle of reducing to the max, e.g.


You got here by reading? Nice.

What we can learn from these examples is a focus on core features, on killer features is never wrong. Additionally, eliminating unnecessary ballast can hurt feelings but concurrently emerging your product. Think of the last beautiful person you only saw from the corner of your eye – didn’t this create more interest than a megapixel image? Try to do your design as mysterious and attractive as this.

29. Juli 2016 | Jens Muehlstedt | Kommentieren »
Industrial Design, Interface Design |

Movies: messaging and surfing

The representation of text message and webpages in movies can go across two different ways: on one side there is the need of not interrupting the scene and, on the other hand the need to show the text or the action, Considered as to important information That Must Be Displayed for understanding the movie.


From Person of Interest, s1e2

Based On These two needs we can see in the video different examples did can have a different perception of the content in the movie.

Which are the best solution? Is it good to create unrealistic interface on the phones, thatthey just display the text? or it is better to create a solution where the text is integrated in the scene?

In this video this topic is Described with Possible Solutions and examples.



24. November 2015 | Stella Morelli | Kommentieren »
Interface Design, Trend Report |

iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro 4: a closer look at the future of tablets

Are tablets going to replace computers? If so, how soon? Is it already possible to use a tablet as a professional designer, or is it still too rigid in terms of software functionality? What about sketching – does it feel as natural as using a pen?
Here are the answers and the review of two latest leaders on the market: Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro.


20. November 2015 | Tatiana Mamaeva | Kommentieren »
Allgemeines | Tags: , , , ,

‚Stainless‘ by Adam Magyar

Super slow-motion footage of people waiting for the subway, shot out of the subway as rolling in the station. Very dense, almost creepy videos as the human statues standing there in Tokyo, Berlin and New York with completely expressionless faces which fits to the depressive soundtrack. The video series are titeled „stainless“ and made by Adam Magyar.


„An endless row of living sculptures brought together by the same subway line, the same direction, the same intention of taking the train to get caught and carried away by the urban flow. All their motions slowed down, they are graceful and stainless, holding their breath waiting for their train to pull into the station.“ (Adam Magyar)


New York

He also shoots some very nice high resolution photos, and not only subways, check his website.

Article on petapixel

5. November 2015 | Johannes.Huber | Kommentieren »
Art |

IAA 2015 – through the eyes of our UI design and HMI expert Fabian.

A great spirit of change, a vision brought to series-production readiness and presented in an excellent and unique design language – that has been the appearance of BMW at the IAA two years ago. In 2013, BMW mainly represented itself by the i3 and i8. In 2015, kind of disillusionment has set: The Bavarian automotive company convinced with a solid performance based on a strong BMW7 ready to implement features into production that seem the be no more than a vision for others.

Only Mercedes appeared to be more than a well-sorted car dealer, performing an augmented reality show in a never-ending loop. The Mercedes “Concept IAA” spread a spirit of the future with its transforming bodywork and rims.

Most thrilling trend
The times when drivers communicated only via klaxon, flash of the headlights or pointing the middle finger seem to be long gone. In the future, we will integrate our surroundings as communication medium through projections. Mercedes already presented its autonomous driving car F015 in Las Vegas, which projects for example crosswalks for pedestrians.
Bildschirmfoto 2015-10-01 um 14.14.43

BMW is one step ahead with its 7 Series lighting the way during embarking and disembarking the car.
Bildschirmfoto 2015-10-01 um 14.05.44

The most underestimated element inside a car
Car seats, in the best case comfortable, adjustable and including a massage functionality? Far wrong! Sensors in „Faurecia’s“ car seats measure respiration, cardiac rhythm and biometric data of their passengers. In case that the driver falls asleep, the system activates the lane assistant and awakens the driver with a massage. For accidents that occur nevertheless, the airbags adjust to the size of children, women or men. If the passenger’s heart stops beating, this information will be transferred directly to the rescue teams.
Most interesting processing of materials
This car’s interior has been covered with a millimeter thin layer out of slate. Whether this is a reasonable option for weight reasons needs to be discussed. But for many fields of application this could become a really interesting solution: The layer is thin enough to let light and LED through, which means it could be used for displaying interfaces.
Series production
Interaction via gesture control is not a new phenomenon. For several years now, you can easily build prototypes using a Kinect.

BMW is one step ahead with its 7 Series: Many features that for the competitors remained in concept phase were realized and produced in series. Starting with the touch display key up to gesture control. But more than any other way of interaction, the gesture control has to be learned by the drivers: Which gesture means what, where is it used and functional? That’s not easy and not yet intuitive. Therefore, today gesture control only makes sense in some very specific use cases.
For example, BMW uses gesture control to change the volume of the radio. Of course, it’s working as well via buttons at the steering wheel, rotary controls or voice control, but gesture control now offers a forth option.
Rotary controls are used everywhere, gesture control isn’t working in any use case, so why not implementing a touchpad?
The touchpad is becoming an important and independent input element. It is equipped with raising shapes or Force Feedback to offer better orientation. Both trends have been applied in the concept for Hyundai Vision G Coupé in an amazing way. Hyundai itself characterizes its device as follows: “The ‘Remote Wheel’ is an ergonomically designed semi-sphere haptic touchpad installed in the center console. It offers intuitive touch and gesture interaction and responds to a simple wave of the hand, minimizing driver distraction”.
Audi presented their touchpads without Force Feedback but using even more rotary controls. At first sight, it’s not clear which input device should be used for which function.
The most interesting and drastic implementation of a touchpad has been produced in series by Lexus: It includes Force Feedback, is functioning perfectly for most applications but ends in disaster when it has to be used via cursor.
You will see Force Feedback in every third car presented at the IAA. But none is giving you the feedback of a keystroke as it does the Apple MacBook.
The instrument cluster: less analogue, bigger and with a sense of future.
The most interesting instrument cluster has been presented by DS Automobiles consisting in a head-up-display and two sequential screens. The screen in the front row is transparent and complements the content of the second one.
This rear projection is not less drastic:
Continental showed with this instrument cluster that LEDs can form a perfect unity with an OLED display.
BMW covers some parts of its instrument cluster with rounded tape to conceal unattractive screens.
Apart from that you get the impression: the more screen, the better.
Nissan can’t keep up concerning innovative materials, but they found a way to use creativity to compensate these disadvantages.
Rear seat entertainment: Big screens becoming thin Android tablets
Until now, most of the implemented screens gave the impression of a tube television. Why not using thin Android tablets? In this field, Audi scores with their rear seat Android tablets.
Bracket for the Audi Android tablet:
And again the BMW 7 Series scores with its rear seat entertainment. Even though the built-in tablet is smaller and fixed in between the two back seats, it is working as well with Android. However, the rear seat tablets still have adequate room for improvement.
Most of the other rear seat entertainment screens seem to have fallen out of time.
Highlights presented by suppliers and start-ups
Neonode impressed with an enlargement of the touchable area of smartphones.
Another great idea is to place buttons on the steering wheel close to the common hand positioning.


In the future, street lamps won’t just light the roads, but also offer electricity and monitor parking areas. The future charging cable will bill electricity on its own, no matter where you charge your e-car.

Besides from that, Continental presented curved displays and Force Touch screens.
Interactive installations
In the past years, it was worth to visit the IAA only for its interactive installations. Unfortunately, it seems like those kind of installations are running out of fashion. Mercedes was one of the only ones explaining their technology using interactive installations.

Even if those kind of installations hasn’t been quite innovative, it helped ZF to explain the seven steps of autonomous driving vividly.

15. Oktober 2015 | Fabian.Kreuzer | Kommentieren »
Interface Design, Messen Konferenzen Ausstellungen |

presenting change: designaffairs at WorldUsabilityCongress

In Graz we took part in the WorldUsabilityCongress (7th/8th of October ’15) with 250 participants, a lots of presentations and several company stands.

Alex did a presentation on: „Beyond the Frame | Interaction Experience in the Automotive Landscape“


Jens did a presentation on: „Human Centered Design securing the Future“


Both presentations were broadcasted via livestream to the internet.

Also, there were a lot of interesting presentations by SAP, MIT, W Motors, Porsche, Microsoft, Caterpillar, Telekom and many many others.

Furthermore, Graz is a very nice little Austrian city and the diner at the castle restaurant was astonishing.

designaffairs looks forward to come back next year!



Immersion in a VR documentary, opening doors for a new generation of filmmaking, design, art and creativity.


I stumbled upon this project not long ago and I think it’s a very interesting and admirable project that I want to share with everybody.

CLOUDS is a virtual documentary where you have the possibility to navigate yourself through a matrix of questions such as “What does music look like?” or “When is an artwork done?”.


It has its own cartography and a very clear interface design. There is also an inventory of 2D and 3D interstitial animations sometimes running through the interview subjects of different shapes – many of them were coded by the interview participants themselves. It shows many perspectives and voices, in which you definitely can get lost.



I think it’s best to make up your own mind about it and have a look, enjoy and as I said – immersion.


11. August 2015 | Veronika Nartova | Kommentieren »
Art |


„as·phyx·i·a“ is an experimental film showing new ways to combine technologies – with really stunning results!

Created by Maria Takeuchi with Frederico Phillips and performed by Shiho Tanaka: About the project & gallery

„Motion data was captured using inexpensive sensors and that data paved the way through an extensive number of steps. Once all the scanned point cloud data was combined, that was then used as the base for the creative development on the piece. A series of iterative studies on styles followed and several techniques and dynamic simulations were then applied using a number 3D tools for various results.“

Reminds me heavily on this one from Universal Everything:

3. Juni 2015 | Johannes.Huber | Kommentieren »
Art, Interface Design |

UX is not UI

I found this article interesting and explicative about what UI and UX are.

Here is a short part of „the UX Umbrella“ that I found interesting:

„In a presentation that Dan Willis (@uxcrank) did for the DC Startup Weekend in 2011, he had a phenomenal image that really shows what UX encompasses:


The items that are sheltered by the umbrella have two purposeful omissions – user experience design and interface design.

User experience design is omitted because it is the loose term that encompasses all of the various disciplines. You’re never really doing any “user experience design” that isn’t just a combination of one or more of the things under the umbrella.

User interface design is omitted because it is the crossover between visual design (look and feel) and the interaction design (how the look and feel work). Combine those two and you have an interface. The interface is the result of the “solution design” that came before it.

A skillful interface designer understands the importance of providing the user with a solution to a defined problem.“

Posted by 




17. März 2015 | Stella Morelli | Kommentieren »
Interface Design |

Twisted Memories in Virtual Reality

Recently, I had a weird moment in VR which I am excited to share with you.

After playing around with Oculus Rift DK2 and screening different VR-Apps, a Quake 1 porting directly caught my attention. Quake 1, the ego-shooter from 1996, developed by id Software. As one of the first 3D games with polygon based models it was one of the big milestones in 3D game experience development in the middle of the 90s. I am sure the 30+ of you definitely know it.


Source 1: http://www.theriftarcade.com/quake-1-updated-with-dk2-support/
Source 2: http://www.theriftarcade.com/quake-1-review-for-oculus-rift/
Source 3: https://github.com/jeremiah-sypult/Quakespasm-Rift/releases

I remembered the hours I spent in front of my old CRT 17″ inch monitor that was flickering with 75Hz into my eyes. At that time it was just amazing. So I was really looking forward to experience Quake with the Oculus Rift. The first steps in virtual space immediately created a gameplay that was even more visceral than 20 years ago.

But there was also something else I observed. Suddenly I had this short, but very intense moment where past and future somehow fused into the present. Sounds strange and indeed it is. But in retrospective you often are kind of the observer, watching yourself sometimes from a 3rd person perspective. So in this weird moment I saw myself in the past sitting in front of my PC, viewing through this window frame like monitor, playing Quake and now I was just in the same game – in real immersive 3D. It was a totally new experience close to a Déjà-vu, but different. Somehow I was twisting around my own memories.


So why am I writing this?

Because this simple example showed me once again how much more intense and immersive the experience with VR is compared to the established technologies that let us consume digital content today. VR, accompanied by an increased field of view, 3D, head tracking and motion tracking creates something that nowadays is often called Sense of Presence. And I totally agree. Or as Chelsea Stark writes on Mashable „As VR simulations become more immersive than ever, these emotional moments will feel more and more like the human perception of memories“ (–> article on Mashable)

The invention of the Internet sent society into something that German magazines love to call „Gleichzeitigkeit“. VR-technologies now even have the power to somehow bridge past and present by providing the possibility of recalling memories virtually.

But not only virtual reality, of course also the augmentation of reality with digital visuals, abbreviated as AR, will be one of the key technologies of the future. Within the next 5 to 10 years VR and AR together might push the next dimension, the dimension of space, to another level of perception. Imagine you will be able to be present physically everywhere and anytime in an unlimited nonphysical world.

How would that change your everyday life?


Blast from the past

I have to admit that VR fascinates me since cyberspace and cyberpunk culture got big back in the 80s – Bladerunner, Lawnmower Man, Neuromancer, Strange Days, Total Recall and Tron – just to mention a few classics of sci-fi movies and literature. (–> see also our related blog post from 2010)

Today, the technology is mature and cheap enough to start the next big thing. All big companies are in, developing their unique systems and we are curious to see the differences, constraints, possibilities, pros and cons of Sony Project Morpheus, HTC Vive VR, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Magic Leap, Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens and many more. Also established as well as new social, video and gaming networks are preparing themselves, like e.g. facebook that acquired Oculus one year ago, or vyuu from Belgium aiming to be the „Youtube“ in VR or SteamVR by Valve.

As designers we are asked to embrace these new chances for new meaningful fields of applications, avoiding a dystopia as sketched in 80s and 90s science fiction.

Imagine for example realistic virtual training scenarios for doctors or firefighters. Imagine new ways to experience scientific experiments or teaching materials at school. Imagine an immersive design process with virtual prototyping. Imagine sharing emotions and memories with your family and friends …

The opportunities in the virtual world are almost unlimited. And we are excited to get our hands on.


To sum it up

I am convinced that these new realities will not only entertain us, but will have a huge impact on how we think, learn, educate, work, communicate, get inspired, relax, travel, reflect on ourselves and others in the future.

Let’s shape the future of VR and AR together! Get in touch with us. We would love to hear your thoughts.


For all you skeptics out there that now grumble „I got sick in VR…“ I just want to take up the following phrase I just read from AMD’s Liquid-VR-SDK: „…if your CPU and GPU can’t keep up you throw up…“ ^^

„Twisted memories in VR“ is definitely a story we might research further. So stay tuned for new experiments.


Further inspiration



Related recommendations


16. März 2015 | Alexander Peters | Kommentieren »
Art, DA KNOWS, Interface Design | Tags: , ,

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