Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Very Brief Rant on User Interface Design

Back in the olden days of the previous century, I learned the phrase "Angry Fruit Salad".  It was usually used to describe the user interface for PC programs which often looked something like this:

(Yes, I know this is a modded version of a Unix program, but I worked with an awful lot of 
awful PC programs that looked pretty much the same)

Fortunately, computer companies moved away from such cluttered, optic-nerve-searing interfaces. They worked hard to make programs easier to use and look more like the natural world around the user.  The color schemes were more restrained and the objects on the screen were made to look like ... well, actual objects.

(I tried to find a nice example from Microsoft, but they never were very good at making an attractive interface.  
Some Windows versions were better than others)

With that in mind, you can probably imagine my reaction to the interface designs of the past couple of years.  For some reason we've gone back to two-dimensional Angry Fruit Salads.

(I think Windows 8 may have been designed by retired Air Traffic Controllers)

(Apple's iOS 8 actually manages to one-up Microsoft by packing 
more visual clutter into a smaller space)

To add insult to (optical) injury, Apple has switched the text on their smallest displays to a thin-stroked, sans-serif font that is much harder for my middle-aged eyes to see.

Maybe this is some kind of strange nostalgia for the fashion of the 1980s.  If so, I hope it passes just as quickly.


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