Designing experiences and interfaces to be intuited by their users is overvalued.
Riding a bike is one of the simplest and most valuable experiences someone can have in their life. It’s something that provides freedom, mobility, exercise and adventure. Learning to ride is a challenge; however, the reward for overcoming that challenge is exponentially greater. The mechanics and balance to pull off the feat may allude a beginner, requiring coaching and practice. Though once it’s mastered you never forget. This is worth keeping in mind when approaching interface design.
How often have you heard this:
“Is this too hard to find? It should be easy to use."
There is an important difference between easy and obvious. Both are valuable traits; however, emphasis can only exists where other elements are static. Commonly found functions should be easy to locate and operate. Less commonly used functions can be a little more obscure; however, consider how the learning curve for a task relates to the value behind the interaction.
Prioritizing operations and taking care to find the appropriate balance of visibility, difficulty and reward for each is a design consideration that has a deep impact on a users experience. Don’t be afraid to ask a user to learn an interaction that isn’t obvious, as long as it’s simple and yields positive benefits.
A perfect example of this is Rdio’s tap and hold interaction. Accessing an album or playing a song is a simple tap away. Adding that same album or song to a playlist or collection requires a little more work. Tap to hold isn’t an intuitive step, but it is simple. Learning it unlocks deeper functionality, and it soon becomes familiar.
The path to familiarity is personal and can form positive bonds between your user and an app. Make your application like riding a bike.