decreasing usability for the sake of aesthetics, or why things suck now


I was checking out some information on Microsoft’s website when I came across a page that looked like it was straight out of a rainbow book designed for farsighted children. Perhaps this kind of page would fly on a tablet, but it makes little sense on a 20″+ desktop monitor at a high resolution. This got me thinking about Windows 8’s gigantic tile start menu again, and I’ve really come to lament the simplification of design that is inherent in catering to the lowest common denominator: in this case, smartphones/tablets.

And, man, am I going to miss the keyboard. I can only see two technologies supplanting the keyboard as the ultimate way to quickly and accurately convey large amounts of textual information: highly accurate speech recognition and direct cerebral translation (I made that last term up, I think, but you know what I mean – computers reading your thoughts and printing them out). While a keyboard may be a little “clicky-clacky,” it’s miles above having to state aloud everything you want to see written, which can make for some pretty awkward flights or office spaces. We’re not at the stage where the second option is a viable one, but only when we do get there will I reconsider my trusty keyboard.

sausage fingers, from it's always sunny, fxOf course, I’ve been wrong before. I didn’t want to give up my T9 phone buttons for all-touchscreen, but it hasn’t been too bad, and the recognition of systems like Swype have made text input relatively painless, if still a notch below the keyboard. But there are many cases where just putting a stinking physical button there would actually be more convenient and practical. My old Pocket PCs had scroll wheels on the sides which made going up and down on pages, as well as making selections, extremely easy, even with one hand – and all without having to put your greasy sausage fingers all over the screen.

So basically, everything I hate about trending technological design stems from the industry trying to stoop to Apple’s ultra-modern, minimalist design, which is obviously more geared toward content consumption rather than creation. But then that’s just the way the winds are blowing

3 thoughts on “decreasing usability for the sake of aesthetics, or why things suck now

  1. Things are excellent over here. Hope the new tooth summer camp you’ve been hosting is going well. Give me a call sometime.

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