“A focus on appearance is just one of the ways UX is like etiquette. Both are the study and practice of optimal interactions. In etiquette we study the interactions among humans; in UX, between humans and computers. (HHI and HCI.) In both domains we pursue physical grace â€” â€smooth,â€ â€œfrictionlessâ€ interactions â€” and try to avoid embarrassment. In both domains thereâ€™s a focus on anticipating othersâ€™ needs, putting them at ease, not getting in the way, etc.
Of course not all concerns are utilitarian. Both etiquette and UX are part function, part fashion. As a practitioner you need to be perceptive and helpful, yes, but to really distinguish yourself, you also need great taste and a good pulse on the zeitgeist. A designer should know if â€˜weâ€™ are doing flat or skeuomorphic design â€˜these days,â€™ just as a diner should know if he should be tucking his napkin into his shirt or holding it on his lap. And in both domains, itâ€™s often better to follow an arbitrary convention than to try something new and different, however improved it might be.”