Saturday, July 23, 2011 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Picking Off iCal’s Paper Bits

Commenter SG on Daniel Jalkut’s post:

It’s especially grating that Apple’s UI designers have become so divergent in the approach discussed in the article: consider that, while the “Base Window” of apps like iCal have become more exaggerated and colorful than necessary, standard elements such as toolbars have gone so far in the other direction (bland) that it’s become an obstacle to use.

For example, all toolbar icons are now small, flat, medium-light-gray on medium-dark-gray buttons with actual button borders and no text labels. So what was once a colorful, descriptive, large action button is now a tiny incomprehensible symbol.

Indeed, Apple does not seem to be “spending” color wisely in Lion. They’ve moved it from areas where it can help differentiate to areas where it’s just distracting chrome.

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"Indeed, Apple does not seem to be “spending” color wisely in Lion. They’ve moved it from areas where it can help differentiate to areas where it’s just distracting chrome."

This is entirely true. And if we expand from color to other forms of chrome, the 'no useful information' animated zoom of window opening in Lion falls in the same category.

However, beyond mere distracting use of color/chrome, and beyond the misplaced skeuomorphism, I'll note that the sin of Lion's iCal and Address Book in Lion that bothers me the most is simply the reduced usability and functionality beyond the appearance impairments.

Did you ever find leaving the iCal calendar list visible in its pane useful in your workflow? I certainly did. No longer an option. (Sort of similar to the Downloads window removal in Safari.) Address Book, of course, has suffered far worse a fate than iCal, but it's part of the same trend of reduced usability and functionality beyond the bad chrome decisions.

Or put another way, I can suffer bad visual design a lot more gladly than I can suffer bad usability and functionality design, though neither is welcome. (And indeed, one is correct to claim that bad visual design is actually one element of bad usability and functionality design.)

[...] more egregious problems with Lion’s Address Book and iCal seem to be fixed. (The skeuomorphic chrome remains in place, though.) And there’s some cool new stuff in Mountain Lion for developers. [...]

[...] initially tried BusyCal due to the iCal regressions in Mac OS X Lion. With Mountain Lion, I am back to using Calendar, chiefly because I find its month [...]

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