Monday, March 12, 2012

UI


With my adventures of Windows 8 I came into a long standing discussion of Human Computer Interface and Interaction Design. Windows 8 is probably the most dramatic change of UI in Windows ever, and its focus is seemingly only on improving new ideas, or moving onto mobile platforms. CES in the last few years has been about that, pretty much: mobile technology and new ways to interact with Technology. I admit that I like Windows 8 and its new ideals, but newer isn't always better.



Foobar 2000, please don't make fun of my musical tastes
I've always really liked Foobar2000. It's easy to use, it's easy to modify and make tools for, it's fast, and it works really well with Wine. The best thing it does, however, is give you the power to change how it looks and works. It has many presets, but none of them were ever any good for me. It takes a tiny amount of work, but customizing the look is actually simple and quick. Within a few minutes you can have Foobar2000 exactly how you want it, and it will look totally different from what mine looks like. It can suit any needs easily, and it never makes any part any more or less important, you do.

 In the above picture I make use of only one(visual) third party plugin: Facets. Facets allows me to search my library quickly and easily. I can find certain artists and albums quickly. I could also search songs, genres, years and etc. being able to add this plugin changed Foobar2000 from being an average Music Player to the best ever. It's not fancy, it's not flash. It doesn't look cool and it actually kind of boring, but it's so fast, light weight, and easy to use that I can't understand anyone who doesn't use it.


Facebook, in honesty, is a designer's nightmare. Not because it's terrible or hard to use (although it has been both of those things and may still be), but because 300 million people use it. It's very difficult to make a product that such a large amount of people use.

Having said that, I must say that I've never liked Facebook's design. I both understand and don't agree with what they do. Their mission, ultimately, is to deliver content that you're interested in. This means at some point Facebook will stop showing you posts by people you never look at or comment on. You won't see pictures you don't want to view or games you don't play (hopefully anyway). Now, I understand why they do this, it's very easy to just friend everyone you see on Facebook. They've done what they could to stop everyone from friend'ing whoever you want, but there is a backlash from that.

Honestly, Facebook is an advertisement engine. It's how they make money, but their method of content delivery isn't for me. Also, the ever changing design is confusing. It's often unneeded and ever limiting.


Twitter
I have to say that Twitter is one of my favorite sites. It forces its users to be concise and specific. It is minimalistic. It is easy to use. Twitter has gone through some revisions, but certainly the most recent (as of March 2012) iteration is my favorite so far. It focuses on the timeline and only adds additional content to the page as you request it. They've also added a comment like system that makes the process of following @replies easier. It's also easy to view content on the page, but only as you request it.

The Whole website and service values your time. It's eloquent, easy-to-use, minimalist, and valuable. Honestly, I think it's the perfect social network. It focuses on new things, like we all should.

Google's Iconic Andorid
Smartphone OSes are really great at doing what they do: delivering an in depth experience with as little UI in the way as possible. Their goal is to make the process streamlined and simple. This works very well on a tiny screen, or a screen that is 10", but not on a desktop. Put Android or the iOS on a computer and you'll find it to be clunky. Not because it runs slowly, but because there are so many steps with each thing you do. You'll find that you can see as much and you can't do as much at the same time.

This is the failing of Windows 8 and its worst feature: it makes strides in combing the two principles of desktop and mobile computing, but manages to further neither.

I want to talk about this a bit more, so look for a post coming soon about Windows 8, again.

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