The cranky user: Usability off the beaten path (13 Mar 2006)
It's hard to really see the assumptions you make until you see them from the outside. The assumptions of how video games, which use the WASD cluster for movement, should be made were unexceptional to me until I learned Dvorak. Users who grew up on the Amiga, or on X11, find virtual desktops habitual and usual; users on other platforms often find the very concept alien and confusing. The tendency for user interfaces to be built in terms of incremental improvements on other interfaces keeps learning curves fairly low, but limits the potential for real innovation.
That said, if you're designing a new program, please don't invent your own concept of window management for your application alone. Consistency does offer some virtue.
This week's action item: If you use X11, spend a couple of hours experimenting with Ion. The development tree for Ion3 is stable. You might need to give it some hints about specific programs to make it interact nicely with them.Add this article to Del.icio.us