Friday, January 4, 2008

Where is the real art of the UI

I was reading Daring Fireball, and he writes about an interesting argument about a UI issue between Tim Bray and one of my heroes, Bruce Tognazzini (Tog), the original Apple Human Interface Evangelist. Bruce is an incredibly smart guy and an incredibly nice guy, and one of the folks responsible for guiding us developers towards making easy software. There are many lessons I learned from him that are indelibly engraved in my brain.

If you want to read the discussion, click through above. My point here is not to rehash it, but to address one interesting and fascinating point. When I was writing Mac software in the late 80's and early 90's, people actually cared about user interface. They understood the issues. They argued about it.

But today, design rules about web sites are ages behind what we were doing 13+ years ago on the desktop. It is as though all the smart UI guys fell asleep, induced by some seemingly incurable disease called "shitty HTMLitis." Its caused by the inability of modern web standards and technology to produce productive pleasing interfaces.

Thankfully, the Ajax/Flex vaccine is now beginning to be distributed, and humanity will indeed be saved. But it does feel as though we need to start almost entirely over again, because the new 20 something guys have never heard of guys like Tog, or Bill Atkinson, or Andy Hertzfeld.

Time travel is weird.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the importance of UI culture. Mac interfaces have been good in no small part due to the guidelines Apple provided, and the self-reinforcing Mac developer culture of investing time & energy into making consistent, attractive UIs.

    Good UI requires:

    *The tools to implement it (as you pointed out)
    *The culture aspect of caring enough to expend effort on it


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