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House of Cards, Monument Valley, and Design

monument-valley-gameImage Source: Monument Valley App

Millions of people enjoyed the new season of House of Cards on Netflix this weekend. If you were one of them, you might have noticed Frank Underwood playing a beautiful game in episode five called Monument Valley. Some have even written about parallels between Underwood and the 2014 award-winning game’s heroine, Ida. Such prominent placement will surely be a boost for the popularity of the game, and it was a welcome alternative to the more typical analogy of chess and politics.

Awards and analogies aside, I was struck by how masterfully the game guides the player through a mind-bending Escher-like landscape with little or no instruction. It uses visual and auditory clues to help the player understand how to use its interface, with only an initial “Tap the path to move Ida” to get the player started.

Following up on my previous post about website usability criteria, Monument Valley is a great object lesson in creating an interface that is intuitive and even delightful. Your visitors should need as few instructions as possible – if any – to be able to immediately begin to use your product. Think of ways to lead your visitor through the experience using form, color, and animation. Guide visitors through discovering and creating in your world, rather than explaining. Explore ways to surprise, entertain and even delight your visitors; they’ll thank you for it with brand loyalty and spending more time with your product.

Tell us what you think about House of Cards, Monument Valley or using these design ideas in your next design project. Thanks for reading!