The latest posts tagged with DesignThursday — May 24, 2012
I’ve been reading a lot of riffs lately comparing the upcoming ribbon toolbar in Windows 8 Explorer to the current minimalist design of the Finder in Mac OS X. From most Apple-focused pundits, they view it as a failing of design. They point out that most typical users can arguably achieve the same results on a Mac without 137 different mousable actions. Microsoft must be mired in groupthink and is therefore is unable to winnow out the unneeded elements.
I think they’re making some correct aesthetic assessments, but for the wrong underlying reasons. (I’m looking at you Gruber, Marks, Dalrymple, etc.)
Yes, Apple has less menu items, buttons, whatever in their Finder interface… but not because “it looks good” or for any other aesthetic. They put less in the Finder because they think the user shouldn’t have to be aware of the functionality at all. Just look at the Auto-Save and Versions capabilities introduced with Lion. If Apple has its way, you shouldn’t have to worry about saving a document/file. It should simply be automatic.
This is even more clearly evident in the iOS devices. The user has zero ability to interact with the underlying filesystem at all.
Microsoft is taking the completely opposite tack with Explorer. They don’t want to hide filesystem operations from the user… they’re actually trying to expose more of the commands and actions.
You know what’s more confusing/time-wasting/frustrating than having a lot of items to choose from? Having none when you know what you want has got to be there somewhere.
And so this all comes down to compromise. Apple’s compromise is that they cannot give regular users their perfect vision of UI… yet. As far as power users go, they can fall back on the UNIX command-line.
Microsoft is, I think, in some ways actually closer to their perfect vision. They want everyone to be power users and are willing to make buttons out of anything to do it.
Believe it or not, I don’t even know who I want to be right.
I do think that the entire point of computers is to alleviate the need for us to perform redundant, simple tasks. Why should any novice user even care what a file is at the disk level?
I also get that something as trivial as deciding who to share one’s photos with has a range of repercussions at the OS level. Maximizing the performance of such intentions can frequently require an in-depth understanding of what’s actually happening on the network, in the OS, on the disk.
I like this kind of competition. Both sides have merits and both have drawbacks. It all comes down to dealing with people, but defining who those people are - or, more correctly, who they will be - is the real challenge.
I can’t wait to see where this all ends up 10 years from now.