Robert Denton

Staggering work of genius from Portland, Maine – Photographer, Designer, Taco Maker, Birder, Biker, Business Owner

A Conflation of UI

Why Microsoft outplays Apple long term – Scobleizer

Apple doesn’t get developers. They do get whizzy UI.
Microsoft eventually will get whizzy UI. The platform that has BOTH third-party developers AND whizzy UI will win and win big in the marketplace.

I have no quip with Mr. Scoble’s critique of Apple for not having someone appear, even at a somewhat impromptu event, one week after the largest product launch in history, and not long after Apple’s own WWDC. It’s a valid critique even if somewhat early in this game.

What I do take concern about is the conflation of “whizzy” and UI. Good user interface design does not necessarily mean “whizzy”. Whizzy is more along the line of the somewhat egregious animation or some of the transparency and drop shadows we see. If done well even these gee-whiz interface features can add useful tactility to the overall usability and quality of the UI. Take the OS X minimize to dock animation. It’s definitely whizzy, maybe even cheese whizzy but at the same time it provides a visual (too strong one might add) clue as to what the heck just happened! Is that an example of whizzy U, egregious animation, bad UI or OK UI? We could debate this one device forever.

Now, take the interface to Windows Media Player and the various skins one might apply. Are they whizzy, yes and most definitely cheesy but this cheese stinks (and not the good stink). The difference is one of simple functionality – the skin in my experience actually gets in the way of functionality and just getting things done. I don’t really require an “experience” with my media player, only with the media I am playing thank you.

One could compare the UI of Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition (gargle on that name!) with Apple’s Front Row. A whole lot has been said about the two products in terms of functionality versus simplicity. Is MCE a whizzy interface? It’s certainly better than Windows overall where the little voices inside make me want to dump the thing in the river.

The thing for me is the core of what’s behind the visual design, those elements of Design that the labels, icons, and menus act upon. The most interior of all Microsoft products still feel confused, overly concerned with offering fanboy outs, too much information, or simply unclear pathways to goals. This is what comprises UI. I reckon Mr. Scoble knows this in his life steeped much more closely to the digerati than my own, but, it was worth pointing out.

As far as this relates to the iPhone it is clear to me the strategy of rolling something out with a well defined scope has worked really well for Apple in the last decade where if you do a comparison the coin has flipped.

Posted: 10.07.2007 in Design Both comments and pings are currently closed. — RSS 2.0

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