Years ago attended some training in information design from Jared Spool of the firm User Interface Engineering. One thing that Jared said that really stuck with me was this: in the software design community we use the phrase "look and feel" a lot, and usually we spit it out as a single word, lookandfeel. But it's useful to parse the phrase. A software UI like an operating system or application has certain attributes that we can call "look" attributes, and other attributes that we can call "feel" attributes."

Look is:
• The "first impression" visual appeal (for example, "Oh I recognize that this table in Project reminds me of Excel").
• The ability to transfer knowledge from experience with a different UI (like the fill handle for using the AutoFill feature in both Excel and Project).
• From a software design perspective, relatively easy to change or customize (or "skin," as we sometimes say).

While feel is:
• Deep and architectural; baked into the bones of the product.
• Extremely difficult if not impossible to change beyond a certain point in the product development lifecycle.

Continue reading at projhugger.

Carl and Tim Johnson are currently working on Microsoft Project 2010 Step by Step, which will be available in June.