Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
GUI Graphics Microsoft Apple

The Condescending UI 980

theodp writes "Paul Miller has some advice for user interface designers: Don't be condescending. 'The Ribbon in Microsoft Office products,' complains Miller, 'is constantly talking down to me, assuming I don't know how to use a menu, a key command, or an honest-to-goodness toolbar.' Miller's got some harsh words for Apple, too: 'And of course, there is the transgression of the century: Apple's downward spiral into overt 1:1 metaphors. The physical bookshelf, the leather desk calendar (complete with a torn page), the false-paginated address book...these new tricks are horrible and offensive [and likened to Microsoft Bob]. They're not only condescending and overwrought, they're actually counter-functional.' So, how does Miller cope while waiting for his UI knight in shining armor? 'I recently switched my Windows 7 install over to the Classic Theme', Miller explains, 'which is basically Windows 95 incarnate, just with all the under-the-hood improvements I've come to rely on. I really like it. It feels right, and if it isn't beautiful, at least it's honest. I wish there was a similar OS 9 mode for OS X.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Condescending UI

Comments Filter:
  • by Old Sparky ( 675061 ) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @09:26AM (#38334240)

    OK, it wasn't really recent; it was in 2001. And I switched to Linux, and I've never been happier!

  • by Zaphod-AVA ( 471116 ) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:19AM (#38334576)

    I want to break into their houses, and take all of their possessions out of their closets and drawers and nail them shut. Then I'll lay all their stuff out in piles sorted by type and leave a note that says "There! Now you can find all of your stuff more easily! Have Fun!"

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:21AM (#38334602)

    I honestly am waiting for Windows to rename "control panel" to "shiny stuff" in windows 9.0

    With the long term trend in the groupthink arena toward icon-ization, we are nearing the point where there will no longer be words or names. The inability to discuss the interface is an advantage for marketing, to some extent. It is 1984 new-speak like.

    So, click on the shiny ball (color depends on your local theme). Then click on the paradichlorobenzene molecule, don't know what that is, well tough cookies. Then click on the smiley face. Ta da you're now upgraded. Whatever you do, don't click on the icon that looks like two mating centipedes. And the Cthulhu icon, thats not a good choice either. Who knows what any of this will do, and if it doesn't do what you wanted it to do, thats because you're using it wrong; the user is always to be blamed either for being too much of a power user or too much of a noob. Our UI did great in the focus groups; everyone knows focus groups are never wrong; after all they brought us Palin, Hillary, and Britney Spears; our UI is proven perfect QED.

    Think about even simple stuff like replacing the "my pr0n" directory with a wordless ribbon-like icon... we probably won't be able to agree on an icon of exactly what body part, nor agree on female or male, nor even what species.

  • by repvik ( 96666 ) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:28AM (#38334650)


  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:25AM (#38335048)
    I personally like clicking on a vague icon and not knowing what will happen. It's thrilling.
  • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @08:55PM (#38339028) Homepage

    Unfortunately, computing is going to be like TV - if you want to maximize profit, you cater to the lowest common denominator. Hopefully Linux will continue to be Team Discovery Channel.

    You want the Linux UI to be based on occasionally shooting a cannon at people? Or, you want somebody to fork Linux and make it only ever print messages about weddings and such?

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.