61 thoughts on “Big monitors make you more productive?

  1. … I don’t want to belabor what I’m trying to say, but here’s a more every day example of why you don’t always want interface elements at the top (as opposed to viewing a Word document metrically correct to print size):

    You have a small sized video on a stream. You don’t want to use the full screen for the interface, you don’t want to maximize it. That’s why they appear in resized small windows. The same thing for small videos in media player, you don’t want the interface full screen. And editing on small sized bitmaps, its true also.

  2. … I don’t want to belabor what I’m trying to say, but here’s a more every day example of why you don’t always want interface elements at the top (as opposed to viewing a Word document metrically correct to print size):

    You have a small sized video on a stream. You don’t want to use the full screen for the interface, you don’t want to maximize it. That’s why they appear in resized small windows. The same thing for small videos in media player, you don’t want the interface full screen. And editing on small sized bitmaps, its true also.

  3. No, its just its silly for most users to not maximize a Word window. Its not that its necessarily easier to work like you do in a Mac with the menu bar at the top; there’s no reason to not have the full space available–especially with heavy interface elements like toolbars that are more visible with more space. Its the same with other programs.

    As you say, having the menu bars appear in the same place as OSX just happens to work out that way. How does that support Fitt’s law then?

    Say you want a Word document to appear on the screen metrically the same size as when you print it out. You have a huge monitor (for argument, 60″); so this makes you shrink it to a size with a lot of space around the document, in a way that does not look good. In this case, someone will want to use Word unmaximized; I would bet you money.

    I wasn’t ‘supporting’ Fitt’s law, I think its narrow. I was using it to point out one way that it is narrow; that holding it to an absolute would make the claim working on a small screen is more productive; when its not an absolute.

    But its not just a matter of Fitt’s law not being absolute; the only time it even gives meaningful measurements is in specifically set up tests. In day-to-day use, Fitt’s law is completely meaningless as a law; because the utility and productivity of an interface becomes wrapped up in the -logic of the interface-, and things are easier when the interface makes sense, and harder when it doesn’t. Its not just that these other elements conditionally override Fitt’s law, Fitt’s law completely dissolves from any practicality at all, because there is no room for it when considering everything else.

    As an abstract measurement Fitt’s law isn’t meaningless. But as a way to evaluate the goodness of designs, it -is- meaningless. Every time you think you want to invoke Fitt’s law, there’s a better more meaningful explanation. Like with maximizing Word.

    John, and no, to give you an example, I’m not interested in using a 60″ monitor to do my work, I really do prefer a normal sized monitor that gives me more focus. Ya, 60″ is an etreme example, but you’re talking as if larger space is always better. Its not just in extreme cases that you can make the judgement that it isn’t. Whether it is 23″ or something smaller is a matter of what makes sense. I prefer doing work on a notebook, though, which typically have smaller screen.

    Btw, of course its not good to have toolwindows in your way when designing. But there are cases where you’d want what you’re designing in a smaller space. The only point of bringing this up is to make a point that a large amount of space doesn’t help every single utility; not to convince you people should use smaller screens.

    My primary comment, though was whether it really is a justifiable cost for a workplace to get a larger monitor. If you’re as large a company as Microsoft, it doesn’t matter.

  4. No, its just its silly for most users to not maximize a Word window. Its not that its necessarily easier to work like you do in a Mac with the menu bar at the top; there’s no reason to not have the full space available–especially with heavy interface elements like toolbars that are more visible with more space. Its the same with other programs.

    As you say, having the menu bars appear in the same place as OSX just happens to work out that way. How does that support Fitt’s law then?

    Say you want a Word document to appear on the screen metrically the same size as when you print it out. You have a huge monitor (for argument, 60″); so this makes you shrink it to a size with a lot of space around the document, in a way that does not look good. In this case, someone will want to use Word unmaximized; I would bet you money.

    I wasn’t ‘supporting’ Fitt’s law, I think its narrow. I was using it to point out one way that it is narrow; that holding it to an absolute would make the claim working on a small screen is more productive; when its not an absolute.

    But its not just a matter of Fitt’s law not being absolute; the only time it even gives meaningful measurements is in specifically set up tests. In day-to-day use, Fitt’s law is completely meaningless as a law; because the utility and productivity of an interface becomes wrapped up in the -logic of the interface-, and things are easier when the interface makes sense, and harder when it doesn’t. Its not just that these other elements conditionally override Fitt’s law, Fitt’s law completely dissolves from any practicality at all, because there is no room for it when considering everything else.

    As an abstract measurement Fitt’s law isn’t meaningless. But as a way to evaluate the goodness of designs, it -is- meaningless. Every time you think you want to invoke Fitt’s law, there’s a better more meaningful explanation. Like with maximizing Word.

    John, and no, to give you an example, I’m not interested in using a 60″ monitor to do my work, I really do prefer a normal sized monitor that gives me more focus. Ya, 60″ is an etreme example, but you’re talking as if larger space is always better. Its not just in extreme cases that you can make the judgement that it isn’t. Whether it is 23″ or something smaller is a matter of what makes sense. I prefer doing work on a notebook, though, which typically have smaller screen.

    Btw, of course its not good to have toolwindows in your way when designing. But there are cases where you’d want what you’re designing in a smaller space. The only point of bringing this up is to make a point that a large amount of space doesn’t help every single utility; not to convince you people should use smaller screens.

    My primary comment, though was whether it really is a justifiable cost for a workplace to get a larger monitor. If you’re as large a company as Microsoft, it doesn’t matter.

  5. Brian, again, go use Illustrator on a 12″ screen. Enjoy the extra work required to hide palettes so you can have some actual space for your work.

    I also find it interesting how you use and discard Fitts’ law depending on if you think it supports or doesn’t support your position. Considering that the tendency of Windows users to maximize windows, something noted not just by me, but by the Office designer team, so that the menus function much closer to the way the Mac OS menubar does, (that’s not the basic reason, it just works out that way), I’d say Fitts’ law is a pretty damned reliable way to evaluate designs.

    I’ve yet to find anyone who said “No, I don’t like the extra space of a larger monitor. Please take this 23″ LCD and replace it with a 14″ LCD. 12″ if you have one.” In fact, if you filter out complaints about physical space taken on the desk, (a real concern with CRTs, not so much with LCDs), I’ve NEVER heard anyone complain about a larger monitor because “there’s too much space”, and I’ve been doing IT for a long damned time.

  6. Brian, again, go use Illustrator on a 12″ screen. Enjoy the extra work required to hide palettes so you can have some actual space for your work.

    I also find it interesting how you use and discard Fitts’ law depending on if you think it supports or doesn’t support your position. Considering that the tendency of Windows users to maximize windows, something noted not just by me, but by the Office designer team, so that the menus function much closer to the way the Mac OS menubar does, (that’s not the basic reason, it just works out that way), I’d say Fitts’ law is a pretty damned reliable way to evaluate designs.

    I’ve yet to find anyone who said “No, I don’t like the extra space of a larger monitor. Please take this 23″ LCD and replace it with a 14″ LCD. 12″ if you have one.” In fact, if you filter out complaints about physical space taken on the desk, (a real concern with CRTs, not so much with LCDs), I’ve NEVER heard anyone complain about a larger monitor because “there’s too much space”, and I’ve been doing IT for a long damned time.

  7. sorry i meant to also say that its not just a single application taht can be sized down, but also multiple windows where its easier to work if theyre close together; which you have to work to do on a larger monitor.

    now its not a big deal to do this and its not a big deal to even work with windows farther apart in these cases; but for a lot of work where its more pleasant to use a larger monitor its not a big deal to use a smaller one.

    in either case, the work gets done; and the productivity is up to the worker.

    of course there are some situations that are different, naturally

  8. sorry i meant to also say that its not just a single application taht can be sized down, but also multiple windows where its easier to work if theyre close together; which you have to work to do on a larger monitor.

    now its not a big deal to do this and its not a big deal to even work with windows farther apart in these cases; but for a lot of work where its more pleasant to use a larger monitor its not a big deal to use a smaller one.

    in either case, the work gets done; and the productivity is up to the worker.

    of course there are some situations that are different, naturally

  9. Well, I am talking from my own experience and understanding. I know that some things are better to do on a smaller scale. In many design applications, that would mean at least shrinking the size of the window or having a lot of white space. And in that case you are moving from the area of focus a long way across a large monitor.

    We -are- talking resolution, or at least desktop space, because we’re talking about having more space on the screen.

    And it does involve Fitts law at least in the way that Fitts law says that the proximity of two things together affects productivity.

    But personally I think Fitts law as meaningful in any scientific, formulaic, appliable way (which is the way its phrased) is BS and easily undermined, and I have wrote elsewhere why. Fitts law is generally just a political tool people use to support one interface (.. MacOS) and not an end-all or not necessarily even useful when thinking about design.

  10. Well, I am talking from my own experience and understanding. I know that some things are better to do on a smaller scale. In many design applications, that would mean at least shrinking the size of the window or having a lot of white space. And in that case you are moving from the area of focus a long way across a large monitor.

    We -are- talking resolution, or at least desktop space, because we’re talking about having more space on the screen.

    And it does involve Fitts law at least in the way that Fitts law says that the proximity of two things together affects productivity.

    But personally I think Fitts law as meaningful in any scientific, formulaic, appliable way (which is the way its phrased) is BS and easily undermined, and I have wrote elsewhere why. Fitts law is generally just a political tool people use to support one interface (.. MacOS) and not an end-all or not necessarily even useful when thinking about design.

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