Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Jun 2012 12:19 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces It's been one of my major pet peeves on both Android and iOS: the total and utter lack of consistency. Applications - whether first party or third party - all seem to live on islands, doing their own thing, making their own design choices regarding basic UI interactions, developing their own non-standard buttons and controls. Consistency died five years ago, and nobody seems to care but me.
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UI consistency died much earlier
by _cynic_ on Mon 18th Jun 2012 13:26 UTC
Member since:

UI consistency died much earlier. Web apps...

Reply Score: 7

gan17 Member since:

Much earlier than that, actually..... Widgets

Then again, anything outside a terminal session is a mess in my book. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 5

Laurence Member since:

Much earlier than that, actually..... Widgets

Then again, anything outside a terminal session is a mess in my book. ;)

Not even the terminal is consistent:

Parameters are non-standardised (most annoying of all, the -h / -? / --help switches). And the way in which commands are chained can vary too (eg GNU tools tend to allow single char switches which can be linked as one parameter, where as Sun (RIP) preferred full descriptive terms that had to be individually specified.

You also have some apps abusing STDERR (most notably outputting command usage to STDERR instead of STDOUT).

There's the mismatch of true CLIs which are optimised for shell scripting and text UIs (such as ncurses) which can't be piped at all.

And dadly the problems aren't limited to execution either as app config files can vary massively too. From basic Windows INI style configs to shell parsable envs, XML docs, JSON structures and even completely bespoke layouts.

And don't get me started on incompatibilities that can arise from using the wrong character set or even $TERM.

Going back to the wider problem though - the one Thom raised - I do miss consistency in design elements. But sadly I think it's an inescapable situation. The real problem is as long as you allow 3rd parties to develop software, those developers will have their own ideas about usability. So you either have to accept that inconsistencies will arise, or write the entire stack inhouse. Neither solution is optimal, but such is life.

Reply Parent Score: 4

zima Member since:

Websites in general (yeah, that kinda includes OSNews ;) ).

Large part of those Android or iOS applications are basically "web 3.0" - they are often little more than custom UI to a single website or feed.
And majority of what Thom wrote in Conceptual part applies to web pages. Plus, WRT one other bit in the article...

users can carry over their experience from one application to the next, making the whole experience of using a UI more fluid. Applications should be the means to an end - not the end itself.

Maybe that's not necessarily perceived as a good thing for app makers (or website owners), users not being very used to particular app UI, and able to effortlessly move to others. As far as those who make them are concerned, apps are the end itself.

Overall, really, I'd say UI consistency never was very strictly followed; a bit stillborn.

Edited 2012-06-18 14:57 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

Dave_K Member since:

Websites in general (yeah, that kinda includes OSNews ;) ).

I think there's often more consistency on the web than there is between different applications in an OS.

Every website is running within the same browser, using the same window controls, keyboard shortcuts, toolbars, menus, mouse gestures and so on. If I right click on a link, or highlight and drag a block of text, or open a file dialog, or perform loads of other interactions, they'll all work pretty consistently across different websites.

Even when it comes to the websites themselves, there are certain design elements that are relatively consistent between similar sites.

Most of the forums and blogs I read have a similar layout and comment system. If I go to one I haven't visited before it's highly unlikely that there's anything new I'll have to learn.

I've been shopping around for some PC components recently. Before even visiting a new online store I can guess where navigation elements will be placed, and how product listings will be laid out. The vast majority follow roughly the same template.

In my experience, websites that go their own way and break conventions with a radically different design have to be very well thought out, otherwise the inconsistency will really annoy users.

Reply Parent Score: 3

avih Member since:

WinAmp anyone? 1997, one of the earliest extremely wide spread application which used a "skin". That was 15 years ago...

Reply Parent Score: 2