iPod Shuffle: Simplicity is key. Simple for humans, not manufacturing
By Eddie LopezEddie_Lopez. Thursday, April 16, 2009 3:47:22 PM
Look. You can't remove the user interface Apple.
Design has certainly trumped usability in the case of new iPod Shuffle. You may make a case that minimalist design is more important than modal controls. You can argue that 90% of the functions listed there are never used ("I just hit play and go!"), but these controls are clearly not "human centered." They are completely modal (dependent on a single, center, button). This may look simple, but only from a minimalist/design/hardware perspective. It's not simple for the user at all to remember the many different contexts and modes for the center button.
From the good Dr. Norman:
Hey, folks, what ever happened to simplicity as a virtue? Of course, one of the most difficult things in design is to make things simple. It requires focus, dedication, and a clear goal. It means eliminating needless features, using dedicated controls rather than multipurpose, modal, complex menu-driven ones, and it requires the development of a clear conceptual model carried throughout all aspects of the design.
(related article here)
The previous generation of shuffle, in my opinion, was much closer to Donald Norman's definition than the current version. There are additional features added (playlist management, voice driven features, etc) and modal/multipurpose controls.