Sleeping Kindles and designing for experiences beyond the web

I love Tom Armitage’s post Asleep and Awake, about the differences between the Kindle and the iPad. Here’s how he describes what happens when you wake each device up:

The Kindle blinks ““ as if it’s remembering where it was ““ and then displays a screen that’s usually composed of text. The content of the screen changes, but the quality of it doesn’t. Ther’s no sudden change in brightness or contrast, no backlight. If you hadn’t witnessed the change, you might not think there was anything to pay attention to there.

When the iPad wakes up, everything else in the room disappears; your attention’s been stolen by that burst of light.

He goes on to describe the Kindle as having a “quiet confidence” while the iPad constantly seeks your attention. The conclusion serves as a healthy reminder of the scope of true user experience:

The Kindle, much like a paperback book, is just as happy “asleep” as it is in use. It’s a reminder that the design of genuinely ubiquitous devices and products is not just about what they are like in use; it is also about what they are like when they are just present.

We need to remember that even on the web, we’re not just designing online experiences. All the touch points with users have to be designed. Yet we often don’t apply user-centred design principles to areas like customer support and logistics. Let the Kindle’s “asleep” state remind us to do so.