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Thread: User Interface Design Should be Limited Contract Work Only

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    User Interface Design Should be Limited Contract Work Only

    I'm sure I've hit on this in a "little" thread, but Google has made it worth harping about again.

    The hiring and retaining of full-time UI/UX designers has nothing but negative results overall. This is because to justify their existence in that capacity, they must continually make frivolous changes to the UI. This results in regular bouts of user aggravation at change for the sake of justifying some stranger's salary.

    The UI for Chrome was fine. The new UI doesn't expose new features, it just looks different, ugly, and juvenile, as if we needed protection from angles or we might cut our eyes on them. Same for the recent Bubble-wrapification of the UI in gmail. Their last two or three changes were stupid and awful, but at least they allowed me to roll back most of them.

    If they really wanted to help the user base, they would make the UI fully customizable--and not in a way that requires you to code it up and hack it in. They'd offer an array of options for what your UI could look like--at the very least to the level we used to have in vanilla Windows.

    But that is unlikely to happen soon, because we've got all these thousands of idiots with degrees in UI/UX design making their living making shitty UI's then pushing the turd fragments around and spewing clouds of bullshit as to why the new arrangement is better an not (at best) merely different, and totally not (as it usually is) noticeably worse.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

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    I think the suggestion that google redesigned their ui because they employ permanent ui designers, is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

    There's a lot more in ui/ux than most people appreciate.

    I haven't looked into it that much. But, in my opinion, the Material Design design language that google has been using for a while now, is pretty boring and dull. Predictable/safe/reliable, yeah. But, just dull. I think they probably know that, sort of. People like visually interesting things. This is just human nature. Anything starts to look dull after a while.

    If google didn't have permanent ui designers, they would hire contract workers and say "can you change our interface appearance somehow?" and they'd spend a long time fucking around, figuring out things because they're not used to things. And they'd do the same thing.

    I think interface designers are currently trapped between wanting to create visually interesting stuff, and the current trend of having everything look the same / predictable. Current design theory pretty much says "do what everyone else is doing, or your users will be confused", and it actually is pretty much true (sure all the geniuses here can manage, but for a businesses trying to maintain accessibility to every skill level...).

    The other thing is that if you were to make your UIs less conventional, it raises the technicality of making sure everything works properly / is internally consistent, and it is quite expensive to test all of that, rather than stick with the same-old.

    I see this ui redesign as just google predicting that they're about to look dated, and experimenting a little bit. Pretty lame experimentation though. A few circles. I predict they'll launch a few more iterations within the next couple years.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I see you've drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid. "About to look dated" is a dead give-a-way. That's not a good reason to change the UI. Good reasons are: it doesn't work well for it's primary purpose; important features are hard to find; the pattern of focuses has poor or no logic; prompts are wrong, illegible, misleading or broken; to maintain internal consistency between intra-platform (not inter) components that are part of program or application suite--not "it looks the same as it did last year".

    People like familiarity too. Especially in tools and especially in tools they use on a daily basis.

    I completely and utterly reject "it looks dated" as a reason to force a reskin of a deployed product on users.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    "About to look dated" is not a good reason to change the UI. Good reasons are: it doesn't work well for it's primary purpose;
    "About to look dated" is a good reason to change a UI.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarydoor View Post
    "About to look dated" is a good reason to change a UI.
    It's an idiotic reason therefore it can't possibly be a good one.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    It's an idiotic reason therefore it can't possibly be a good one.
    Why is it idiotic?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scarydoor View Post
    Why is it idiotic?
    If your reason is "because it looks dated", then you aren't fixing anything, you aren't alleviating eyestrain, you aren't combating RMS risks, you aren't adding any features, you aren't simplifying needlessly convoluted menu systems, you aren't doing something functionally useful like deprecating the prominence of rare or legacy features or escalating the visibility of principle features. You aren't making an improvement or correcting a mistake. You are changing things for the sake of changing things, and in so doing not only risking breaking things, you guarantee you will invoke the anger a nontrivial number of your customers.

    Unless the UI was already utter gobshite and needing of a real overhaul for functional things, a large portion of your existing customer base is going to hate you for it. They may stop griping after a few weeks, but that doesn't mean they're happy about the change. It just means they have other things to do and can't afford to spend any more energy being ignored.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    If your reason is "because it looks dated", then you aren't fixing anything. You aren't making an improvement or correcting a mistake.
    "looks dated" is something to be improved.

    I think you are fixated on that a UI should just need to be functional. They are lots more than that. If there is user perception that it looks dated then this is a problem in the UI.

    And these are not "one or the other" problems.

    In your first post, you seemed to be quite dismissive of the necessity for quality UI trained people. Now saying "don't change anything, because it could cause problems." That's exactly why UI people exist, to balance visual stuff + functionality + whatever else. Maybe this update hasn't been received that well by some people. But I personally think it just shows how difficult it can be to achieve all these goals. Also, some people just like to complain.

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    I agree in the sense that I am sick of the Care-Bear-ification of UIs, such as what's recently happened with Chrome. Completely unnecessary, and insulting to boot.

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    Member lbloom's Avatar
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    I don't care to have my cheese moved constantly and unnecessarily either.

    Whether or not these are justifiable full-time positions depends on the data linking revenue to the response of the general existing/new user base to the "refresh," though -- other people may like shiny.

    Business is business, no?

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