It’s important to have interfaces that are satsifying to use, sure, but that satisfaction is primarily because we’ve been trained to associate indicators of action with actual accomplishment.
I worry that if visual indicators of change aren’t made representative of underlying change, we’ll get a kind of hedonic treadmill where the inherent pleasantness of placebo buttons drive increasingly flashier interfaces for the same activities – in other words, requiring more attention and more computing resources to do less. (Basically, that gamifying interaction itself will produce perverse incentives.)
The big problem regarding design & user empowerment is that users are unnecessarily limited in their actual power – can’t fix problems with applications (even open source ones) without going through the gauntlet of becoming a ‘real programmer’, can’t customize their own interfaces (stuck with preset options of color palette & text size made by a designer who doesn’t know their needs), fed into a stream of false dilemmas where every possibility is what benefits the designer instead of what benefits the user. Just making interfaces more fun to use won’t fix that.
Love the title. Good titles are hard. The first couple of paragraphs are solid.
Good design is important. It’s where the product interacts with real people.