A Real Dial

13 April 2019

From “A Spectre Retrospective”:

Remember how I talked about the exposure duration dial, and how I really wanted it to feel like a tactile control like the one you have on a camera? The delightful clickiness of it, its precision, the appearance of etched metal… Delicious. How could we possibly translate this to a digital user interface? You’d just be tapping on glass.

[…] The only issue was that my big silly thumb would totally obscure the control. […]

But we didn’t have to also emulate the limitations of the physical world along with its wonderful tactile qualities: this is the digital world. We can make tiny phones fly. We can use a machine brain to pick the right settings for you.

We can make the dial expand gracefully as you select an exposure time.

Thus:

This is probably my favorite part of the interface. Everything about it feels and looks perfect; Ben’s custom spring physics, my visual design iterations, and Jelmar’s completely custom typeface we use for the numerals. Three people worked hard on this little doodad — and most users probably wouldn’t even notice the work we put into it!

I would argue that’s how you know that you’ve made something well.

When you come across an article set in a superb typeface for reading, some excellent airport signage or a well designed door handle, you don’t think about it or even notice it. If anything you might just notice being happier, or simply not frustrated. That’s how you know a design is great: it disappears.

(Emphasis mine)