Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Sickness

So, I'm getting sick. Sick of colors on my computer. Sick of round buttons. Sick of people with photoshop and too much time.

So, I never understood why artists would go to a junk yard and take some stuff and glue it together and call it art. And I never understood why people would praise it and adore it and rave about it. Still I never understood why people would display it and pay money for it. I mean, its junk. It looks good- sort of -but its still junk.

I feel that way about computers these days. I just feel like people put too much emphasis on how it looks. Its that mac wow moment: when you open your program and it wiggles from the bottom. "Ohh and ahhh." I just read a review of Leopard (Mac OS 10.5) and the guy basically said its like Mac's version of Vista, but instead of it having less crashes it has more crashes. Its really pretty, but the prettiness hinders rather than helps. Thank you for finally saying that, Mr. PC Mag guy.

I use AVG for my anti-virus. Many people use Avast!. People constantly site as a con of AVG that it doesn't have a very good looking UI. I have to agree. AVG uses big square buttons that are well labled. Avast! on the other hand looks like Winamp. I can't tell when any of the buttons do. How do I update? Is it doing it for me? How do I scan? Someone might say just take a little time to figure it out. I say, I don't want to interpret your hieroglyphics, just to check for viruses. Give me big ugly buttons please!

I was able to attend one of Microsoft's developers conferences when they launched Vista. The MS evangelist showed one example of how .NET3 could be used so well. He had this beautiful program that would flip pages like a book and show data. Rounded buttons and all sorts of gradient colors. It was good stuff, but I know me. If I can run something fast and ugly I would rather do that than have something pretty.

There is much to be said about a good user interface. Something that doesn't abuse the light that is about to reach your eyes, and helps you get your work done fast. Thats all I want. Thats why I turn off all the effects on XP or Vista or whatever I use. Either they don't work right or they just don't add anything. Example: in Windows 95 the Start button was clearly a button. It was of good size easy to click, and it was clear that you should use it. In XP it blends in a little more. Becoming part of the frame that your work goes in. In Vista its just a little circle. It doesn't even read Start anymore. Just a symbol. Looks good, but it isn't clearly a button.

Now, here is a great example how a good UI can make all the difference. Ribbons. In Office 2007 the ribbon interface is brilliant. I find things easier. The pictures that are added helps my brain understand what it does. The common things are bigger, the less common smaller. I do have one problem with it. To open a new file or save or print option you have to click that big round office symbol to get a menu. How am I supposed to know that? I guess I have to read a help file or something. They were able to put everything else in a tab, why return to the drop down menu there?

Whats the point of all this? When MS considered how people work and how to help them do a better job, they cam up with Ribbons. Brilliant, helpful, home run. When they thought about how to make the program look better they came up with fuzzy title bars and tiny buttons I expect my grandma will never figure out, slow my computer, and add nothing.

So developers: help your customer do what they want to do, and then make it pretty.

Oh.. and I think I'm coming down with something.


CresceNet said...
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Justin said...

Are you reading any books? I've been downloading audio sermons and listening to them (since I preach every week) from Harvester, CCCB, Madison park right now. I'm turning Sunday School into Bible College coming up. Emphasis on Restoration and then going through Intro to OT, NT basically. I'm going to use Pelfrey's sheets from OT and I ordered NT Survey notes from CCCB. hey , only $11 each, not bad. Rock Band came in the mail, can't wait to play that as a Christmas gift.