Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Nov 2015 14:40 UTC

An absolute must-read from Don Norman and Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, two absolute heavyweights in the field of usability. On top of that, Tognazzini was heavily involved in the development of the early interface guidelines at Apple, which gives him a unique perspective on the matter.

The products, especially those built on iOS, Apple's operating system for mobile devices, no longer follow the well-known, well-established principles of design that Apple developed several decades ago. These principles, based on experimental science as well as common sense, opened up the power of computing to several generations, establishing Apple's well-deserved reputation for understandability and ease of use. Alas, Apple has abandoned many of these principles. True, Apple's design guidelines for developers for both iOS and the Mac OS X still pay token homage to the principles, but, inside Apple, many of the principles are no longer practiced at all. Apple has lost its way, driven by concern for style and appearance at the expense of understandability and usage.

Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. No, not so! Design is a way of thinking, of determining people’s true, underlying needs, and then delivering products and services that help them. Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design: Designers today work on such problems as the design of cities, of transportation systems, of health care. Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer's sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use.

The problem Apple is facing - as has been explained to me by people who are in the know about these matters - is that the people originally responsible for usability at Apple, including those responsible for the first multitouch interface of the first iPhone, are no longer at Apple. The company currently doesn't have an overarching philosophy when it comes to user interface design, leading to the problems described in detail in this article. The software side of Apple lacks its own Ive, if you will.

And boy, does it show. I bought an iPhone 6S (the pink one, 64GB) a couple of weeks ago, and while I don't want to reveal too much from my review, I'm appalled at just how unfocused, chaotic, messy, inconsistent, and hard to use iOS has become. This article articulates really well where the main problems lie.

It's easy to look at Apple's massive profits and the quality of its hardware and miss the abysmal state of Apple's software. They've got a lot of work to do - and they really need the right people to get there.

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Not just Apple
by deathshadow on Wed 18th Nov 2015 06:24 UTC
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The problem can be seen industry-wide when it comes to IT. Years of usability studies and user interaction common sense has been thrown out the window -- and the reason is clear.

Artists have taken over.

I'm going to use web development as an example as it's supposed to be all about accessibility and usability. That's why HTML was even created in the first blasted place.

When I think of the word "design" I think things like electrical design and mechanical design. These are fields where limitations of material strength, availability, usability on the end product come in front and center as without those they are of no use. HTML and websites in general also have limitations where there are a lot of things you CAN do that you probably shouldn't.

... and right now, most of the people calling themselves "web designers" are so woefully ignorant of these things, that they are NOT designers; they are graphic artists. The end result ends up akin to hiring a 5 year old with a box of crayons to design the space shuttle.

You can see this in the utterly and completely back-assward process people use of developing sites now, where these ALLEGED designers start out by dicking around in Photoshop worrying about fixed width screen appearances before they even have content of value or semantic markup. That's putting the cart before the horse and completely missing that there is more to a website and more to ACTUAL design than "what it happens to look like on the screen the designer is seated in front of".

To be brutally frank, 99% of the people out there calling themselves "web designers" do not know enough about HTML, CSS, Emissive colourspace or accessibility to be designing but two things: Jack and ****, and Jack left town.

You can tell this by asking the simplest of questions, like "How are you going to handle when the content is too big for that fixed height background?", "How is this going to scale to dynamic fonts?", "How is this going to be elastic and semi-fluid" -- generally "designers" have no clue what that even MEANS.

... and if you ask about "responsive" they'll typically say the actual coder (who should be doing the ACTUAL design work) will handle that with some bloated rubbish mouth-breathing asshat bull like bootcrap. At which point I tell the poor client being duped by these scam artists to go find a stick to scrape that off with before tracking it all over a websites carpets.

Really that's just indicative of every industry right now, where form hasn't just put functionality in the backseat, it tossed it in a sack and threw it out the window into the river like a unwanted litter of kittens.

It's easy to see why though -- suits with checkbooks who know nothing about usability are far easier to impress with "cool and flashy" than it is "subdued and functional". It's why goofy distracting animations, images too big to even go on a website in the first damned place, and endless pointless scripttardery and bloated frameworks are the order of the day.

On the hardware side you see much the same thing, where really, REALLY bad designs are getting greenlighted because they're artsy, without asking if it's actually USEFUL. Just look at the Micheal Bay movie reject mouse Razr put out recently that leaves one asking "Have these people ever even SEEN a hand?" -- or disastrously bad "yeah, but where are you going to put it" Boxee box with it's oddball shape that didn't play well with normal furniture. Just look at the goofy artsy shape of the Alienware Area 51 or Apple's own "trash can from outside the convenience store" Mac Pro. The latter undoing several decades of progress for them and reversing the joke about which platform has the bigger mess of tangled cables.

In many ways it's the same as the asshattery you see in construction where you now have "Architectural Death Rays" like the Walkie Talkie in UK, Disney concert hall in Cali, or the Vdara hotel in Vegas. It's why you see structurally unsound shapes like the Stata Center in Cambridge Mass, or again that Disney concert hall where after just a few years they're bordering on needing to be condemned... and it's why idiot money pits like the "Millenium Dome" and outright eyesores like the "Music Experience" even got built in the first place.

It's what happens when you let artists think they know **** about **** without letting an ACTUAL architect or engineer supervise their hoodoo-voodoo "gee ain't it neat" bull!

There are WAY too many artists not qualified to design a blasted thing, who openly attack concepts like usability, calling themselves designers these days.

You want proof of that? Track down one of the sleazeball scam artists who call themselves a designer crapping out templates at web design whorehouses like Themeforest or Templatemonster, and ask their opinion of NNGroup or the WCAG -- half will never even have heard of them, the other half will rant and rave about how full of **** Neilsen-Norman is and how following things like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines "limits their creativity".

Sorry to say, when it comes to usability and accessibility, there NEEDS to be limits on creativity!

Edited 2015-11-18 06:24 UTC

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