Settings are not a design failure  ↦

Adrien Griveau makes the case for settings as a feature, not a design bug. He build the argument from a simple (and perhaps controversial) point: “users love settings”

There certainly are moments where I find myself on the settings page of a product because it failed to deliver the experience I really wanted. But not all settings are created equal.

There’s a difference between product settings that a product needs to get right by default and preferences that designers deliberately shouldn’t have a strong opinion on.


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2022-02-13T17:01:40Z ago

While I was reorganizing my phone, I had a sudden realization: Settings are typically seen as the result of design failure. The thinking goes that as designers, our goal is to create product experiences that don’t require any adjustments by the user.

[citation needed]

Jerod Santo

Jerod Santo

Omaha, Nebraska

Jerod co-hosts The Changelog, crashes JS Party, and takes out the trash (his old code) once in awhile.

2022-02-14T14:40:26Z ago

IANAD, but this something I have heard expressed by various designers over the years. I believe it comes from a combination of a couple different design axioms that are held by some:

  1. Minimalism (Less is more. Settings are not less.)
  2. “Don’t make me think” (Make smart choices on the user’s behalf.)

One such example of this is Marco Arment’s original goal with Overcast was to have zero settings in the app, because he thought that was good design. Over time, he realized it was forcing him to do a bunch of bad design to accomplish that goal, and he changed his approach. Unfortunately, I can’t find him saying this in writing. He discussed at some point on either ATP or his old podcast, so I can’t easily provide you a citation.

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