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MAYA (Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable)


July 2020


Process, Quotable

“Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable” is a term originally coined by revolutionary industrial designer Raymond Loewy and can be a valuable mantra to take into accounting when crafting interfaces which are new or unique.

“The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”

Raymond Loewy

Creating new interaction models can be rewarding, but can also cause confusion, misunderstanding, and discomfort for your users.

Loewy’s take on crafting new solutions based on previously acceptable solutions could be a valuable starting point in your road to creating new experience experiments.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Google – Instant Search

Google’s instant search was a groundbreaking idea at the time.

Take the search interaction the user’s already used to, and start pre-displaying results as the user types.

At the time it was novel both in terms of technology and usability – but was too expensive in terms of the costs and benefits in the mobile-first world.

Google – Search History

On the other hand, this control is still in production.

Google suggests search queries from the user’s history to cut down the number of interactions a user has to complete in a search, and increase the relevancy of the searches that a user is looking for.

Adding a history is a small tweak to the common search bar, but can help cut down the time at the search stage significantly.

Pinterest – Masonry Layouts

Pinterest was one of the first company’s to explore using a masonry pattern vs. the standard grid and list views which are prevalent in most applications.

While being understood easily by users as a modified grid – they’ve found it to be quite useful in terms of unstructured browsing vs. pointed search.

Content Sites – Intent-Based Popovers

Modals have been found to be an effective marketing onboarding method for quite some time.

Intent-based modals take that commonly understood control and add the dimension of intent to them (deploying the modal as the user starts navigating toward the “Back” button or search bar).

Every Messaging App – Stickers

With the rising popularity of emoji and MMS messaging to send glyphs vs. words product designers started noticing the shift in communication to be more accepting toward picture-based communication.

As a control, almost every chat application has now some form of first-part store or gallery for sending stickers (pictures) in their messages.

Path – Expanded Action Buttons

Remember Path? It’s still around.
Path was a beautiful application, which at the the time was at the forefront of pioneering new mobile controls and methods.

One of the most often re-used controls was the multi-function action button on mobile.

It didn’t catch on in terms of broad adoption in the long term (many apps which started using it have since retired the control), but definitely gleaned its inspiration from web based drop-downs and navigation paradigms.

New Paradigms are Experiments

You’ll notice that a number of these controls have been phased out or are no longer in use.

That’s because as new paradigms are implemented, not all of them thrive.

Creating new controls is creating experiments which need to be tested with users to see if they conform to the mental models and understanding of your users.

These experiments will help you get an understanding around whether you’re succeeding in making your users’ experiences faster, more effective, and more memorable.