Mastery and user interface

Jakob Nielsen on different user interface experiences. He classifies the experiences as involving mastery, mystery, or misery!

The original ideology of hypertext and the World Wide Web, as expressed by Vannevar Bush (1945), Ted Nelson (1960), and Tim Berners-Lee (1991) makes individual users the masters of the content and lets them access and manipulate it in any way they please. User empowerment requires perfect usability and simplicity: only if users know what every design element means will they feel in control of the medium.

Search engines are the archetypical embodiment of the mastery ideology. They place users firmly in the driver's seat and take them where they want to go. You can get anywhere on the Web using a subservient interface that accepts any words you throw at it and serves up a simple, linear list of rank-ordered choices. ..... Being in control feels good.[Mastery, Mystery, and Misery: The Ideologies of Web Design (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)]

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