The importance of the seam in seamless
I have often used the word seamless to describe some of the refinements that I have been seeking in the end user experience, although recently I have tended to substitute seamless for integrated without really knowing why. Well today I read a post by Dean Bubley titled Redefining semalessness in which he says:
[seamless] ignores the fact that at the “seam” lots of things change. Bandwidth, latency, price, maybe ownership, control, security, context and lots of other things. While the user should (in some cases like an ongoing voice call) have minimal interaction, the device itself and its resident applications need to be fully bearer-aware to enable a good user experience, especially for data applications. Moving from a low-latency to high-latency connection has a huge impact on software that has complex “hand-shaking” procedures, for example. And moving from an unlimited-data environment (eg home or office WiFi) to one that is tariffed per-MB clearly needs intervention. If I have anti-virus software, for example, I don’t want it downloading 5MB of stuff unannounced, especially if I’m roaming. And I want the music application on the device to recognise I’m at home on WiFi, and default to getting MP3s from my PC hard drive, rather than defaulting to the operator music portal.
This is a really great insight and demonstrates a key issue, that one really needs to think things through from the end users perspective, and not just from a technology perspective. In my personal case I actually go so far as to have different user accounts that I use on my different devices, and replicate different data to each, because each device is setup in a way that’s optimised for it’s usage context, so whilst I want some things integrated I want control and I certainly don’t want someone else deciding where to put all of the seams.