While I have often said that a lot of UI changes are simply eye candy, and add nothing important other than “bling” to a design, not all UI changes fall into that category. However, looking back, I noticed my posts have beat around this huge unaddressed important distinction of UI design that pretty much no company and very few active designers today seems to completely understand, judging from the latest and “greatest” products that are just as confusing for experienced users as they are for newbies.
While, we all seem to inherently understand some form of graphic design language, few aside from UI designers are conscious of it. And even fewer of the professionals understand this graphic design language has rules and conventions based on solid interaction principles. They seem to take for granted, that this control is a certain way without question, and either they use it improperly or worse, they break the convention. Both of these problems are caused because the UI designer does not know the reason behind the convention. I am sure many UI designers will rebuff me — and know the reasons behind certain choices, but not all. The problem is, if the designer has read literature or learned UI from someone else that omitted the explanations and reasoning behind the conventions, they only have half an education.
In the beginning there was nothing but undifferentiated ether that took form when something decided it was time for the infinite void of indifference to chose what to be. Some things spun off into matter and some to energy, and everything changed in the longest instantaneous blink of an eye. As things cooled down, patterns emerged and took form.
The patterns became more and more complex as time went on. Eventually, man too would create virtual universes cast in electrons and controlled by gates pulsing to the beat of an unsteady clock.
As engineers worked, they invented ways to work in this universe and be able to comprehend it all. Initially there were patterns that became patterns of letters glowing green or amber rasterized onto dim black screens. And so this was the interface to the world of electrons for decades. Then some very smart people started thinking about better and faster ways to express data, and new paradigms to work in, and the graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse were born farther back in time than most people realize.
As time marched on more people began to refine the GUI and human interfaces that controlled them: trackballs, touch pads, touch screens, etc. But all this might not have happened if not for one person, and it’s not who you’d think it is…
So, I’ve had Lion installed for less than a week and there’s some good/great things about it and some really frustrating changes. Now, there’s a lot of articles that cover the same ground and mention the same problems or improvements. I’m going to try to add new information about Lion’s new capabilities and steps backwards. To qualify my statements, let me give you a bit of my background. (Below the main article due to length.*)
Pros: Snappier Performance, Resume on relaunch after quit, Graphic changes/improvements, Finder Toolbar additions, Window resize from any edge, Focus shortcuts, Spelling/Thesaurus/Wikipedia popup, Mail link HTML preview/popup, iCal feature additions, Address Book feature additions, Safari downloads popup and rendering boost, Quicklook improvements.
Cons: Apple applications are immovable, App folder requires admin privileges to move applications, Launchpad not easily organizable & limited configurability, Library hidden by default. Mail lost its “bounce” feature. iCal “hard lock” crash wasn’t easily fixed.
Bottom Line: The improvements to the UI and new features and customizability make for not only a more pleasurable experience that also allows you to save time with fewer clicks and faster responses. The Cons are easily outweighed by the Pros list, and $29 or $69 makes it an even more compelling upgrade.