Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Make It So

Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction 

Published: September 2012 Paperback: 348 pages, ISBN 1-933820-98-5 Digital: ISBN 1-933820-76-4

by Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel

Make It So

It has been both revealing and refreshing to see a book that, for the first time, so deeply explores the contrasts, connections, and influences from the realm of fantasy to the real. Shedroff and Noessel have created one of the most thorough and insightful studies ever made of this domain and from a unique angle, not only providing comprehensive coverage of the vast number of examples, but also drawing practical and valuable lessons that inform and can be applied to the problems we think about every day."

—Mark Coleran, visual designer of interfaces for movies (credits include The Bourne Identity, The Island, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider)

Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying these "outsider" user interfaces, designers can derive lessons that make their real-world designs more cutting edge and successful.

Make It So shows:

  • Sci-fi interfaces have been there (almost) from the beginning
  • Sci-fi creates a shared design language that sets audience expectations
  • If an interface works for an audience, there's something there that will work for users
  • Bad sci-fi interfaces can sometimes be the most inspiring
  • There are ten "meta-lessons" spread across hundreds of examples
  • You can use—and not just enjoy—sci-fi in your design work
  • Over 150 lessons and 10 “meta“ lessons that developers can use to enhance their realworld interfaces

“Make It So” Blog

From Sci-fi interfaces

Darth Gozer

Star Wars happens a long, long time ago. Gozer is an ancient God. Both have taken forms with pale, disgusting, flaccid surfaces. And then…there’s this. I’m not saying that Gozer was a Sith, but I’m not not saying it, either.

Rescue Shuttle

After the ambush on Planet P, Ibanez pilots the shuttle that rescues survivors and…and Diz. We have a shot of the display that appears on the dashboard between the pilot and copilot. Tiny blue columns of text too small to read that spill onto the left. One big column of tiny green text that wipes on and flashes. Seizure-inducing … Continue reading

Hey Ukraine & Russian visitors

I love the surge of traffic of late, but curious about where folks are hearing about this little nerdy blog backwater. Care to share where you found it in the comments? I may have a спасиб[о|і] or  or two to share.

Federation Binoculars

When conducting reconnaissance on the bug home Planet P, Rico pauses to scan the nearby mountain crest with a pair of Federation binoculars. They feature two differently-sized objective lenses. We get a POV for him and get to see the overlay. It includes a range-finding reticle and two 7-segment readouts in the lower corners. It looks nifty, but it’s missing some … Continue reading

Healing chamber

After Johnny was mistakenly reported as killed, the next time we see him he is in a healing chamber, submerged in green-underlit translucent fluid, resting on form-fitting clear plastic supports. He breathes through a tube, and a pair of small robot arms work busily to regenerate the damaged tissue in his leg. The main reason to discuss this chamber on a … Continue reading