Home > bigidea, interface design > elegant moments in highrise

elegant moments in highrise

I’ve been using 37Signal’s Highrise for all of 48 hours now, and it has already made a pretty impressive impact on the way I get things done. Using the free trial on my own, I’m sure I’m missing out on a ton of features that make the product more attractive. Regardless, it’s already proven valuable in helping me get organized with auto-generated call sheets, SMS reminders and easy conversation tracking using the email “dropbox” submission.

The thing that’s impressed me the most about Highrise has been those small pieces of the interface that just make sense. In the course of interacting with a product, I tend to think of these as “elegant moments” [can someone tell me where that phrase comes from?]. Dan looks at the same idea from the other side of the lens in his book, calling it “cleverness” on the part of the designers when they “anticipate a need and design for it before a user realizes they need it.” However you label it, the interaction is made more pleasurable because someone put some serious thought into the way it should unfold.


Take the example above, which was a great moment in my first hour of using the product. After having created a contact from scratch, I’d forwarded along an email from the same contact, thinking they’d auto-associate. While this has worked in other circumstances, this time it didn’t and I ended up with two contacts with the same name and email. I didn’t find the merge feature immediately, but when I did, I was pleased to see it laid out in a step-wise approach, with “winner” and “loser” terminology used to describe exactly what would happen next. What could otherwise be an anxiety-inducing process is made clear by use of layout and language, and the user benefits from the designers foresight.

The 37Signals team has a great product on its hands; Highrise’s success will no doubt be a testament to their clever approach to their users’ problems.

Categories: bigidea, interface design
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