Blog

Just some thoughts and musings.

Us and Ux

I really do love graphic design, but I'm a storyteller and film maker first. When I think about interactivity design, I come at it from the place of telling a story. Some mystery is great for involving the user, but clarity comes first. 

Over the last ten years or so design, and especially graphic design, has become such a huge selling point that massive amounts of (rightful) attention has been given to design by huge corporations. Apple is probably at the forefront of this, although they spent quite a few years with a leather binding on their calendar app. Now that they have broken free of sekumorphic design choices, the dam has been broken and many more companies are following suit. 

In general I love the design of iOS8. The interface is snappy, the icons for the apps looks fine to me (I know there is some flak for the gradients) and the best part is it matches the hardware.

There is something I don't like though, and it's not just apple, but lots of updates to apps as well. 

Plain text as buttons. 

I can see that the flash is "off" but how do I turn it on"

I can see that the flash is "off" but how do I turn it on"

It really bothers me when I spend 30 seconds looking for a "send" button when I have been programmed to look for high contrast solid object. Perhaps it's something that I just need some more time to adjust to, but almost a year later whenever I launch a new app I feel a little lost searching for the "buttons". I get that websites use text as buttons, as do DVD menus. But they usually have some sort of color accent to clue you in, or they are organized into a matrix. 

The little hollow icons are less of a pain to me, but still can be an issue for a similar reason: they can look like glyphs and blend into the content. here is an article that cites a study proving that hollow and solid icons don't register to the user very differently.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3032282/do-ios-8s-hollow-icons-really-break-peoples-brains?partner=rss

But I do have to call out that I think the study is a little flawed. I don't feel like the issue is identifying the icon itself (which the study examines), the issue is picking it out and deciphering it's use in the context of a small screen app. I think that if this study was able to test out different apps with the different styles of icons, we might see different results. 

What this all comes down to is a question about how society relates to design. At this point I feel like design has crossed a line where looks are being placed over clarity. Buttons should pop out and be big enough not to miss with your finger. So by toughing it out are we giving these designers too much control over our experiences? Or are we just experiencing the early stages of a mass cultural reprogramming? When we come out the other side in five years, will icons and buttons be gone entirely?  How do we simplify from here?