Why 3D in user interfaces goes wrong 09:38 on Tuesday
The last five weeks our two-man office has worked on prototyping a flash project with a somewhat 3D user interface. Might have something to do with why I chose to post that quote about Brookstone creating a 3D store last week. I also implied that recreating a real life experience in 3D does not work.
I want to clarify that I do not think all 3D is bad (just most of it). Using projected 3D in a user interface goes wrong when it becomes a limitation — and in a “virtual world” meant for achieving something useful, it always does. I’m willing to change my view in a snap if anyone cares to give me a good example.
3D can be used for other UI purposes too, eg. the way it’s been used in Windows Vista or OS X (the cube transitions…). During the building of the proto we found out it can work very well, but it takes a lot of labour and discipline to avoid “getting trapped in 3D”, ie. being able to switch off the rules of the projected 3D space when it makes more sense for the user. This might be why (I think) concepts like BumpTop fail.