Learning From Terminals to Design the Future of User Interfaces
Really enjoyed the post Learning From Terminals to Design the Future of User Interfaces, specifically this point:
Modern applications and interfaces frustrate me. In today’s world every one of us has the awesome power of the greatest computers in human history in our pockets and at our desks. The computational capacity at our finger tips would have been unimaginable even to the most audacious thinkers of thirty years ago.
These powerful devices should be propelling our workflows forward with us gangly humans left barely able to keep up, and yet, almost without exception we wait for our computers instead of the other way around. We’re conditioned ourselves to think that waiting 30+ seconds for an app to load, or interrupting our workflow to watch a half second animations a thousand times a day, are perfectly normal.
He goes on to describe how the web spawned as a new application platform:
Somewhere around the late 90s or early 00s we made the decision to jump ship from desktop apps and start writing the lion’s share of new software for the web. This was largely for pragmatic reasons: the infrastructure to talk to a remote server became possible for the first time, good cross platform UI frameworks had always been elusive beasts , and desktop development frameworks were intimidating compared to more approachable languages like Perl and PHP.
The other reason was cosmetic: HTML and CSS gave developers total visual control over what their interfaces looked like, allowing them to brand them and build experiences that were pixel-perfect according to their own ends. This seemed like a big improvement over more limiting desktop development, but it led us to the world we have today where every interface is a different size and shape, and the common display conventions that we used to have to aid with usability have become distant memories of the past.
…and the issues that we’re now still dealing with:
Web technology isn’t conducive to fast and efficient UIs, but that’s not the only problem we’re facing. Somewhere along the way UX designers became addicted to catchy, but superfluous, interface effects.
Think of all the animations that an average user sits through in a day: switching between spaces in Mac OS, 1Password’s unlock, waiting for iOS to show the SpringBoard after hitting the home button, entering full screen from a Mac OS app, or switching between tabs in mobile Safari.
Web technology could have really fast and efficient UIs, but a few things get in the way
- Third-party libraries get added to sites without hesitation to support tracking, advertising, and analytics.
- Designers dream up fancy animations and layouts instead of focusing on usability.
I think the web would have been better suited as what it was originally intended for, a linked document browser, rather than an app-delivery platform.Posted on September 6th, 2018