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What Comes After User-Friendly Design? (fastcodesign.com) 189

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, writing for FastCoDesign: "User-friendly" was coined in the late 1970s, when software developers were first designing interfaces that amateurs could use. In those early days, a friendly machine might mean one you could use without having to code. Forty years later, technology is hyper-optimized to increase the amount of time you spend with it, to collect data about how you use it, and to adapt to engage you even more. [...] The discussion around privacy, security, and transparency underscores a broader transformation in the typical role of the designer, as Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe and frequent design writer on his own site, Subtraction, points out. So what does it mean to be friendly to users-er, people-today? Do we need a new way to talk about design that isn't necessarily friendly, but respectful? I talked to a range of designers about how we got here, and what comes next.
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What Comes After User-Friendly Design?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @04:50PM (#55227521)

    Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe

    lost interest right there

    • lost interest right there

      Indeed. GIMP has a much better user interface...es

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, kinda.

        A lot of what makes Photoshops user interface usable is that people are used to it.
        If you jump into it as a new user it isn't really better than GIMPs.

        OTOH change for the sake of change should be considered bad user interface design.

  • SANITY! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Prepare to be dazzled by ads from now on. YOU heard it HEAR. Tell all your friends. Tell all your bullies. Shout it from the rooftops. Then buy more shit you don't need, won't use.

  • Good equals simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @04:55PM (#55227561)
    The most "user friendly" design is one that does the right thing every time.

    It is not one that gives you half a dozen options (all equally badly described:: telling the user what they do, not what their effect will be) for half a dozen more operators. It will have intelligent defaults - possibly ones that vary, depending on circumstances. It will provide a clear workflow: top - bottom, left-right, corner to corner -- whatever, it will be CLEAR what to do first, next and to finish.

    Having said that, it will still be possible for users to make their own decisions. A good design will not railroad a user into one single path, one single process or one single methodology. If it did, there would be no point providing a user interface.

    I look forward to the day - at the rate of progress, in the dim and distant future, when user interfaces work like this. Without any "I have just crashed and wiped out all your work. OK" style messages,

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:13PM (#55227695)
      In those early days, a friendly machine might mean one you could use without having to code. Today, to me, a friendly machine means something you can fix by coding since it inevitably starts out broken (and not doing the right thing for me).
    • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:17PM (#55227721) Journal

      The most "user friendly" design is one that does the right thing every time.

      The Right Thing!(tm) differs from person to person, and may even change for a single person as circumstances change.

      For example, a menu-driven program in domain $FOO is great for a novice in that domain but as that novice turns into an expert in domain $FOO they will prefer using shortcuts and muscle memory for common tasks.

      For novices an exploratory interface is great - it allows them to learn the limits of what can be done. For experts a command interface is better - they already know what can be done and the command interface allows them to apply muscle memory to get things done.

      Anyway, this statement:

      It will provide a clear workflow: top - bottom, left-right, corner to corner -- whatever, it will be CLEAR what to do first, next and to finish.

      contradicts this statement

      A good design will not railroad a user into one single path, one single process or one single methodology.

      Finally...

      I look forward to the day - at the rate of progress, in the dim and distant future, when user interfaces work like this. Without any "I have just crashed and wiped out all your work. OK" style messages,

      I look forward to the day that user interface designers read "The design of everyday things" by Donald E. Norman and use it as a checklist against their designs before unleashing crap like Metro and Gnome 3 on the general public with the poor attitude of "You All Are Too Stupid To See The Greatness Of Our Design"(tm).

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @06:41PM (#55228161) Homepage

        The Right Thing!(tm) differs from person to person, and may even change for a single person as circumstances change.

        Agree, most complex tools have lots of paths and it's entirely unclear where to begin but then again the application has no clue what you're trying to accomplish. I'm thinking of applications like Photoshop [wordpress.com], Visual Studio [xamstatic.com], Excel [pcworld.com], Notepad++ [notepad-plus-plus.org], Resolve [wordpress.com] and a whole lot of others. Many, many layers of menus, toolbars, dialogs, tabs, window areas, settings, options and so on. I think that past a certain complexity there's no such thing as a particularly great one-fits-all design. So my pet wishes:

        1. Let me easily move things around. Like if I want to re-dock the windows, resize them etc. I can do that.
        2. Let me easily collapse/remove things I don't need. Or better yet, hide the less used options with an expander/under an advanced button.
        3. Give me a usable way to search for functionality instead of digging through menus and reading tooltips
        4. Offer some kind of preview/sample functionality where relevant. I'm not always sure exactly what to do.
        5. Proper undo/redo history or at least be explicitly clear on what can't be undone.
        6. Auto-complete/suggestions from past entry where possible/relevant, but please no assistants.
        7. Control over what changes/defaults are saved, like do I want the file dialog to start in the most recently used directory or the one configured.
        8. Try being consistent about how things work, avoid unexpected side effects, be clear in naming.
        9. If it's in the nature to be scripted, I love GUIs that build a command line I can copy and save.
        10. Don't make change for change's sake. At the very least offer a "classic" interface, don't force people.

        That would be a good start.

        • Mostly I think you are on the right track Kjella. However

          "3. Give me a usable way to search for functionality instead of digging through menus and reading tooltips"

          You say you want to "search" instead. What the [] does that mean? Your idea of "searching" is going to be different from everyone else's.

          Whereas a menu system is the perfect way to nest functionality. Not unlike a dictionary. Use a word/label to identify -- often with already understood language -- what something will do if you click on it.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @08:21AM (#55230603) Homepage Journal

          11. Let me export those settings, so that when I install the app on another machine/VM I don't have to spend half and hour reconfiguring it.

      • For example, a menu-driven program in domain $FOO is great for a novice in that domain but as that novice turns into an expert in domain $FOO they will prefer using shortcuts and muscle memory for common tasks.

        For novices an exploratory interface is great - it allows them to learn the limits of what can be done. For experts a command interface is better - they already know what can be done and the command interface allows them to apply muscle memory to get things done.

        Exactly - which is why it makes a lot of sense to design GUIs as thin(-ish) front-ends to a collection of commands, at least as a guiding principle; the real functionality should be in the back-end - the system commands, the relational database etc - not the GUI. Also, the term "user friendly" is too vague, and should be replaced by something like "functional".

    • The most "user friendly" design is one that does the right thing every time.

      ... and the premise for most cheap dystopian AI sci-fi.

    • It is not one that gives you half a dozen options (all equally badly described:: telling the user what they do, not what their effect will be) for half a dozen more operators.

      Unless that's a program requirement.

      User friendliness depends on the tasks you're trying to perform and the type and skill level of the user (including developers, who generally need a million options). Sensible defaults are a must, but you can't just make a single UI, built for the lowest common denominator and based on marketing telemetry, and call it a day.

    • It will provide a clear workflow: top - bottom, left-right, corner to corner -- whatever, it will be CLEAR what to do first, next and to finish.

      How does it know what the user WANTS to do next? It should be the user telling the machine what to do next, not the other way round, or you're switching who is the "tool" here.

      A computer should automate a workflow, to free users from repetitive tasks and NOT guide a user through a fixed workflow over and over again.

  • designing friends for the user?
  • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @04:59PM (#55227589)
    Computer Programmers (I'm looking at you microsoft) need to learn that these things are important:

    1. Appropriate icons
    2. Minimizing clicks to task completion
    3. Common control placement
    4. Self-explanatory menu trees
    5. Consistent menu trees


    I'll give you a good idea how NOT to do it. Windows 10 is a mashup of numerous operating systems. You'll find control panels from the original 95, and new 'tile' or web-page-like looks woven together. You'll find some with buttons you push, and others with highlighted words you need to click. You'll find important features like configuring the lock-screen not under right-click display like you would expect, but buried deep inside the user-accounts system. And clicking to find what you want has gotten so counter-intuitive that most people utilize the typing in the search box to pull things up now.

    I could keep going on, but Windows 10 is a prime example of how non-user-friendly programs from tier 1 vendors have become. Photoshop is a right up there too.
    • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:01PM (#55227603)
      Oh, and as a follow up. You know the auto-industry has huge focus groups (usually done by email) where they present icons to people, like a trunk opening button. But they don't tell the people what it does initially - they ASK them what they think it does.

      Because if you have efficient button and icon design, you don't need menu trees and your dependence on language (and all the misunderstandings it creates) is decreased by an order of magnitude. Just have a British Person ask an American where a boot is if you want a good example.
      • You know the auto-industry has huge focus groups (usually done by email) where they present icons to people, like a trunk opening button. But they don't tell the people what it does initially - they ASK them what they think it does.

        That's very interesting to hear. A friend called me for help saying "the naked butt light" [superchevy.com] on her car had turned on. (It's a low tire pressure warning.)

        It also took me a while to figure out what the inductor light [cloudfront.net] was. (It has nothing to do with inductors. It's a light to

        • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @08:50PM (#55228805)
          I don't know whether they do these email focus groups or not, but if they do, they aren't very effective. My wife's car has a picture of a tire tread with an exclamation mark that indicates low tire pressure. Looks confusingly similar to a thermometer in water so you may think you have an overhead. The check engine light is useless if you have never seen an engine on a test stand. Honestly text would work way better than icons for these interfaces. A 16 character display with an actual text message would take up less space and convey more information. Of course it's not language-neutral which is a disadvantage but it's much more expressive.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          These lights are more correct than you think.

          A glow plug really is shaped like a coil. (and it is an inductor too, because of its shape.)

          The tyre pessure light means you need to get a mechanic to fix the tyre. When he bends over to reach it, you see some of his butt.

      • Because if you have efficient button and icon design, you don't need menu trees and your dependence on language (and all the misunderstandings it creates) is decreased by an order of magnitude. Just have a British Person ask an American where a boot is if you want a good example.

        This comment brought to you by someone who has never had to give directions over the phone, or try to figure out what the person on the other end is looking at as the two of you play an impromptu game of inverse pictionary. Icons are just fine, but icons + labels are better and have very few downsides.

        Your example is terrible because most British cars have the driver side and passenger side in a reverse layout from American cars. If you're doing that, you can relabel the error light 'boot open' instead of '

    • heh. you picked a bad example.

      You'll find important features like configuring the lock-screen not under right-click display like you would expect, but buried deep inside the user-accounts system

      Yes, you'll find a security setting inside the user-accounts system.
      Sure, it's semi-related to a password protected screen saver. It has nothing to do with a screen saver though, or display resolution, orientation, multiple screens, display adapters, or anything else to do with the display settings.

      I agree with what you're saying though, Windows is like every other large piece of software. It's been changed a lot over time. It's full of new things that don't quite match up with

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I would kind of forgive Windows for bad UI design IF they stop moving shit around for each release. When they shift stuff around it doesn't appear to solve anything, just be a different kind of random. Same with the damned ribbon: it's still half-hazard, just a different half-hazard. Didn't improve my productivity over the old tool-bars (except where they fixed bugs).

      Consistently bad is better than inconsistently bad. Don't move my moldy cheese, for I've memorized the mold pattern.

      • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:24PM (#55227763)

        Didn't improve my productivity over the old tool-bars (except where they fixed bugs).

        The ribbon is a great example of truly terrible UI design. It didn't improve my productivity, it decreased it. To this day, it remains a speed bump.

        • The ribbon in MS Word is MS way to enforce how to use the tool. The tool is so complex, it needs various modes of operation. The default mode is all about writing text and applying styles (note: I used other tools like Lyx and Adobe Framemaker that favour the use of styles, and I hate the notion of letting the users cherry pick fonts without using styles). The review mode is all about adding Notes and tracking changes.

          Going back to the OP, it is hard to cram every function a tool does these days in a GUI. I

          • The ribbon in MS Word is MS way to enforce how to use the tool. The tool is so complex, it needs various modes of operation. The default mode is all about writing text and applying styles (note: I used other tools like Lyx and Adobe Framemaker that favour the use of styles, and I hate the notion of letting the users cherry pick fonts without using styles). The review mode is all about adding Notes and tracking changes.

            I guess that's the problems most users have with ribbons: Typing and cherrypicking fonts is all they do! Like when was the last time you saw Joe Sixpack use the notes and change tracking?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I must be the only person on Slashdot who likes the ribbon and finds it to be faster than hunting through menus. Maybe my ability to memorize the location and function of a large number of text items in apps I don't use often is below average, but I find visually searching for the thing I want much faster.

          • by narcc ( 412956 )

            My primary objection to the ribbon isn't related to using it personally, but to telling others how to perform some action. Helping someone find an little-used feature by walking them through the menu tree seemed to be simpler than doing the same with the ribbon.

          • Maybe my ability to memorize the location and function of a large number of text items in apps I don't use often is below average

            Actually, this is the main problem I have with the ribbon (aside from it wasting a ton of space) -- I can never remember where things are in the damned thing, so it takes me forever to hunt through and find the thing I need.

      • I hate the ribbon.
        I never used tool bars, I use the menus or shortcuts.
        Toolbars simply need to long to show the tooltip to indicate what an icon is doing ... takes sometimes minutes to get the functionality you(I) need.

    • And clicking to find what you want has gotten so counter-intuitive that most people utilize the typing in the search box to pull things up now.

      And all one has to do is to stick in a c:\> and make the search box 24 lines by 80 columns and you are back to DOS!

      And most X11 window managers had a tiny "mini consoles" way back in 1990s!

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      You'll find control panels from the original 95, and new 'tile' or web-page-like looks woven together.

      No, what makes Windows 10 especially bad is having TWO control panels, each doing a different thing.

      You have the old style Control Panel that's been around, and the new style Settings control panel. And each seems to have a counterpart in the other, but each does not do what the other does. It's like Microsoft began converting the Control Panel to Metro style, ran out of time and we're left with a mish-ma

      • by doom ( 14564 )
        I think it's funny so many people here know what Windows 10 is like. (I know, I know, "I have to use it at work", right.)
        • I have Windows 10 on my desktop and on my laptop, by choice for anything I can't run in Linux. Sure, W10 annoys me in various ways, but it's not nearly bad enough to make me switch back to W7 (which also has a bunch of inconsistencies).

  • We need to keep understanding how people use (and expect to use systems). Nothing has changed. Do you want to change the name from Information Architecture to UX Design. Whatever (even though I think Information Architecture) is more descriptive and ought not be reserved for HCI (Human Computer Interaction) or for people doing Environmental Psychology.

    What is the f**king use case that is better covered by "respectful" as opposed to "user-centric." I actually think that user centric is, in today's word, f
    • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:22PM (#55227747) Journal

      You can have all the UI research in the world, but a clueless PHB or marketer will likely override you with some stupid fad or whim. Science doesn't work on idiots and big egos.

      • Ignoring research is either stupid or genius. Apple got most of its mojo from ignoring conventional (or rather: historical) UX guidelines and not from new technology. Like the Henry Ford quote, that if he listened to market research, people would only have asked for a better horse.

    • Who else is one doing design for?

      In an ever-increasing amount of software, the impression that I get is that the interface was designed for the designer. Certainly not for the user.

      • That tends to be bad design then.

        A good design should allow a domain expert to use the system with little to no training.

        Systems are to be designed for the people using them, not to have some shiny example in a portfolio. /rant
  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:02PM (#55227609)

    UX: User Experience

  • Next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:04PM (#55227623) Homepage

    "What Comes After User-Friendly Design? "

    As far as I can tell, user-hostile design does.

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:05PM (#55227625)

    Reduce contrast and move everything around in order to maximize how pretty the interface is without any regard for how it affects users.

    You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Companies left and right are jumping on board with the Internet Of Things idea of using websites and smart phone apps to control everything. Those interfaces are increasingly dictated by design idiots who care only how pretty the interface is. The end result will be a generation of truly shitty interfaces that barely work, but look pretty in the ad copy.

  • I wouldn't mind more user-friendly design in the current day.

    In my book, a perfectly designed UI is one that lets me do what I want to do without me noticing the UI at all.

    Note that this isn't an endorsement of the current trend of "minimalism" -- which largely accomplishes the opposite of remaining invisible.

  • Have a "basic mode" for beginners, and also an "expert mode". In the expert mode, you see buttons and menus that let you fine tune the app's behavior. (The expert mode's buttons and menus would confuse a beginner, and clutter up the beginner's screen.)

    Also include a button that resets all preferences to their defaults.

    • What about retard mode and normal mode?
      Or APP mode and LUDDITE mode?

    • Also include a button that resets all preferences to their defaults

      I just spent 2 hours setting preferences to where I want them. Now I'll press the OK button -- oops! Reset All. It needs at least a warning and an "Are you sure?"

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Why do we even have that button? [youtube.com]

        No, seriously. Resetting preferences is a silly concept. It almost never fixes anything. When it does, the misbehavior is still a bug, and will still recur if you somehow manage to get your preferences set back to exactly the way they were. Worse, when it does, you've lost the state information that would help developers figure out what is wrong, which means that if you don't manage to get your preferences set to the same state, the bug will end up biting somebody else

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Have a "basic mode" for beginners, and also an "expert mode".

      And you're well on the way to re-inventing the Wordstar design.

      (By the way, anyone who thinks the kids-offa-my-lawn joke is still funny is clearly a geezer lost in the late-stages of senility.)

  • by jrq ( 119773 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:10PM (#55227669)
    Boozer-friendly design
    An interface that's easy to use when inebriated.
  • Menus obsolete (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:12PM (#55227683) Journal

    As more options pile up, menus are becoming too big and deep to be useful. It's time to meta-tize options so one can search for them google-esque. Give each a unique ID so that one can bookmark them and even add their favorite option into their own tool-bar and/or menu as they choose. It could be kind of a friendlier version of Firefox's about:config tool.

    If there are dependencies, then the "parent" option(s) or group-set can be also displayed. Old-fashioned menus can still be available, but not be the only way to access options.

    And make the scope clear: is a given option just for the current document, all documents, all documents of current user only, a given domain, a given sub-domain, etc.

    ruff draft schema:

    options TABLE:
        id
        title
        descript // longer explanation
        type // string, int, double, datetime, bool, path, etc.
        value
        default // out-of-box value
        scope_type // depends on app
        group_ref // id of optional group, null if no group
        menu_ref // id of menu for the old-style menu position
        keywords // synonyms to aid in searching

    • Give each a unique ID so that one can bookmark them and even add their favorite option into their own tool-bar and/or menu as they choose.

      Do you want SAP? Because that's how you get SAP.

    • Adobe FrameMaker does this. A search field (new in the 2017 version) allows you to search all menu commands and dialog boxes. You can customize menus, move commands around, make new menus, add shortcuts to any command etc.

  • A favorite quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:16PM (#55227715)

    "Unix is user-friendly. It's just very selective about who its friends are."

    Anyone know who said it first?

    • One of my favorite quotes. I think I first read it on a bbs in the 80's or 90's.
      • One of my favorite quotes. I think I first read it on a bbs in the 80's or 90's.

        Ah, back when Unix was in her teens... she was so beautiful! :')

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:25PM (#55227765)

    Modern UI / UX design is a clusterfuck of bad design.

    Everything that was learnt for the past 40 years has been thrown out the window. These morons are so focused on Form over Function that you get stupid shit like this:

    * How dare we "clutter up" the UI and show the user a scroll bar so they can gauge spatial proximity. Now we have "endless" scrolling with no scroll bar -- so you have no fucking clue how far along the content you are. Want to QUICKLY scroll to a specific spot? LOL. Waste even more time trying to remember where it was. At least with scroll bars the slider position was a VISUAL MNEMONIC to help you remember roughly where it was.

    * We get idiotic error messages that don't:

    i) explain WHAT caused the problem in the first place,
    ii) nor HOW to resolve it.

    I just ran into one this week. I purchased an album off iTunes and only half the album was downloaded. Clicking on a song that was in grey pops up a dialog Item not available [apple.com]. No Shit, Sherlock. HOW do I _fix_ the problem ?! Really, there was no room to say "iTunes > Purchased Music" ???

    * Worse, everything is "flat" so you have NO visual cue to tell what can be interacted with and what is purely informational. You are kept playing a stupid guessing game of "Can I press this?" In the past we had 3D shading for objects that you could interact with and flat shading for informational. From the _context_ you could figure out the UI. Now a days? HAHA.

    * Gaudy colors are now "in vogue" because they have been smoking Hollywoods Orange and Teal [blogspot.com] crack pipe.

    The only progress is that:

    * "Search" has now been added to "Options" because who needs manuals, right?

    * At least they are _finally_ starting to get a clue with 120 FPS. Consoles are still stuck on a shitty 30 fps.

    Modern UI / UX people are morons. I fight with these people weekly where their latest design is always half-baked. Hell, just getting them to understand "mach banding" and the simple concept of adding noise [youtu.be] to reduce it is an uphill struggle.

    --
    "Those who forgot the past are condemned to repeat it."

    • * How dare we "clutter up" the UI and show the user a scroll bar so they can gauge spatial proximity. Now we have "endless" scrolling with no scroll bar -- so you have no fucking clue how far along the content you are. Want to QUICKLY scroll to a specific spot? LOL. Waste even more time trying to remember where it was. At least with scroll bars the slider position was a VISUAL MNEMONIC to help you remember roughly where it was.

      I could see this devolving from relational database query results. If you run a query for stories ordered by most recent first, you could render/memoize the first few stories right away, and then have the server retrieve and render more query results in the background.

      As you scroll down (hopefully with at least a dynamically growing scrollbar), the server would keep retrieving results from that query and rendering them live. In this way, there wouldn't ever be a 'length' to the content -- only the end of

      • But the user-friendly way to do this is simple: you know how many search results there are, and you scale the scrollbar accordingly from the very start.

        Then the scrollbar would be able to fulfill one of its primary functions: giving you an indication of how much data there is to scroll through.

  • Maybe I'm getting old but I'm finding more and more "modern" UXs simply confusing and frustrating. I tried to book a plane ticket last week and found the entire experience undermining. Heaven help my grandmother try the same process.
    Modern UX "designers" seem to have confused shiny with usable.
  • Apparently the crap we have now. I haven't seen a new user-friendly interface for 15 or 20 years. And get off my lawn!
  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:42PM (#55227891) Journal
    Whatever thinking went into the ribbon thing do the opposite!
  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:43PM (#55227897)

    From TFA:

    It’s a balance any designer with a brief to design an effective, engaging experience has to strike: “You want people to spend money on your game and you want them to spend time in it, but there comes a point where that can become detrimental to what’s good for them and what’s healthy for them.”

    If you're wondering whether or not your UI is good or bad for the user's mental health, the problem is that your design has already gone off the rails and into unethical territory.

    You're not designing a UI to be good or effective, you're designing it to be manipulative. Worrying about whether that manipulation is good or bad for your users is merely distracting you from the root problem.

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      From TFA:

      It’s a balance any designer with a brief to design an effective, engaging experience has to strike: “You want people to spend money on your game and you want them to spend time in it, but there comes a point where that can become detrimental to what’s good for them and what’s healthy for them.”

      If you're wondering whether or not your UI is good or bad for the user's mental health, the problem is that your design has already gone off the rails and into unethical territory.

      You're not designing a UI to be good or effective, you're designing it to be manipulative. Worrying about whether that manipulation is good or bad for your users is merely distracting you from the root problem.

      In the 80's and into the 90's, user-interface design was reasonably user-centric because the goal was to get the user's jobs done so that they would stay with your product because it got the job done. "Stay with your product" meant buying new versions. These days, the product isn't paid for directly by the user, a lot of what keeps a user in your system is "network effect", and your goals are to prevent the user from leaving your system, rather than helping the user get a particular job done. Don't get m

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:44PM (#55227907) Homepage

    Some designs encourage "errors". For example, the practice of making the "Close this window" button small and hard to see on advertisements.

    You can of course do the opposite, making it big and red. Part of this involves making major decisions AFTER the product has been tested.

    Good design should not be focused on "if the user wants this, they should do that." Instead it should reverse the process, asking "If the user does this, what is it they want?"

    A good example is the horrendous, evil "Video that refuses to scroll away." When the user scrolls down to read the article, a well designed video would shut itself OFF not move down to block my view because of your desires. I clearly do not want to hear or see the video, otherwise I would not scroll away.

  • by DidgetMaster ( 2739009 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @05:45PM (#55227911) Homepage
    All software needs to have the equivalent of that 'List of Ingredients' you find on the side of a soup can. It should tell you exactly what data it collects, what kind of privacy you have, and how to switch it off. That information should be listed in a short, concise manner with a few icons that will make it easy to recognize. You should not have to wade through a 10 page legal document (after clicking though a dozen pages to even find that) in order to find out what it is doing with your information (assuming you understand cryptic legalese). The company should not be able to change the terms at the next update without throwing up a big 'red flag' and tell you exactly what they changed. Maybe we could even get some kind of standards body to come up with a 'Rating' from 1 to 10 about how intrusive a piece of software is (1 = saves your screen name, 10 = records the contents of your medicine cabinet) and make the software display it in the 'about box'. Adherence would be optional, but market pressures could drive out anyone who refuses to show the information.
    • I really like this idea.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      It should tell you exactly what data it collects, what kind of privacy you have, and how to switch it off. That information should be listed in a short, concise manner

      All your base are belong to us. How much shorter can it get?

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Actually, all software needs is a list of names of the design team, preferably with a ranking system you can use to prevent them from ever being hired somewhere else.

      Software companies could probably make some money on the side by putting the designers in dunk tanks, and have people contribute money until it reaches the "dunk" threshold.

  • As a long-time Linux user, I vote for going back to the good old Unix way of get-shit-done-friendly design.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @06:20PM (#55228077)

    Why does it constantly have to change? Most people can learn less than friendly user interfaces (have you seen some of the stuff low-paid clerical staff have to use in 3270 terminals?).

    What's totally obnoxious is having the user interface redefined every year because some new crop of developers has decided they need to leave their mark and they have somehow determined that changing everything is necessary.

    IMHO, GUI user interface changes not driven by significant changes in functionality really haven't improved ease of use. The original Macintosh or Windows needed user interface enhancements when they went full-on multitasking, but by and large those interfaces were probably as functional as the flat, widget-and-gesture-laden interfaces foisted on us as improvements now.

    Touch-driven, small devices like smartphones benefit from UI changes (physical use case and interface technology), but I really don't think desktop PCs have benefited at all from the UI churn.

    • Yes.

      Designers need to internalize the essential truth that all user interface changes are expensive for existing users, even if the changes are clearly for the better.

      If the benefit of the change is greater than the cost, users celebrate it. If not, users rightfully despise it.

  • After user-friendly design comes aggressive phonisation:

    - Simple, clear, concise, discoverable menus are removed, or hidden underneath an utterly unclear icon, or somehow folded out into a ribbon that makes just about zero organisation sense.
    - Bloody icons everywhere. And none of them represent a meaningful real-world thing, it's all about as understandable as Chinese. In fact they should go and label all those icons in Chinese; at least some significant fraction of the world's population will understand, a

  • Too many products still aren't user-friendly, so we can't be 'after' it yet.

  • What comes after? Stripping it down to the bare minimum and extinguishing any and all quality that it may have originally had.
  • That old webcomic covered a surprising number of very real user interface issues. It also covered office politics, and technological egotism, and interactions between complete geeks and other people. It's still surprisingly apt after being in reprints for years.

    • Yeah, but it's dead, just stuck on repeat nailed to its perch.
      As is the old "user interface hall of shame" - dead but archived in various places.

      And yet every damned thing they said about UI design is still correct and relevant - it's just that no one actually gives a s**t anymore. Success in UI is now measured by how long you can keep users on your site / in your app, not how fast or how accurately users can actually get stuff done. Or how many ads you can show per user action.

      Eventually the decline in U

  • There are some really poor UI designs out there. But generally the UI is somewhat of secondary issue. Many problems require deep domain knowledge to solve and we keep trying to build electronic systems that can be used without the prerequisite skills. Those will continue to fail. Things like Facebook are useful regardless of UI as long as it is even tolerable. So the issue is not UI improvement in most cases.
  • by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @10:21PM (#55229135) Homepage Journal

    Advertiser-friendly. In fact that comes before user-friendly.

    And asking a bunch of designers about this has fox/henhouse issues, I think.

    (I know, let's do a user survey on the subject of javascript popup windows, and if it comes out thumbs-down, that means everyone will stop using them, right? )

  • GUIs are lacking more and more visual clues to how they work. Programs are getting rid of menu bars or scrollbars.

    In the past companies used to have usability testers which tried to perform certain tasks under supervision. This is gone now and, at best, replaced by much more primitive AB tests.

    Essentially we are now at the level of 1990s film-gui designs. It doesn't matter if it's efficient to use all that matters is that it looks "pretty",

  • There's a topic that isn't clear cut.. What IS user friendly? there is no ONE user friendly way, as what might be user friendly to one person might be crap to another (believe me, these days a lot of designers have no grasp on what actually is user friendly).
  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:56AM (#55231133)

    After user friendly UI design comes the Flat UI that starts removing visual cues and functionality

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @10:42AM (#55231407)
    You want to know what comes after so called user friendly? Look no further than your hand, because you are probably clutching one in your hands, afraid to put it down. Smartphones. Instead of being a good user friendly "tool" they have been taken over by the slim/stylish/colorful/fashion conscious types. When a new phone is introduced, they typically tell you or bring out the guy that "designed" the outer shell, who is typically some high end man bun wearing fashion designer. They will tell you how attractive it is, how sleek & stylish it is. Hell, you'd be lucky for them to even bother telling you how well it works AS A PHONE. And, in the past few years since they latched onto this stylish crap, look how the price has skyrocketed into the $1,000.00 range. Most smartphones in the "flagship" range, have build prices of LESS than $300.00, but "command" A THOUSAND dollars or more. Can't blame the manufactures if consumers are stupid enough to line up and pay that for "a phone".

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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