Although no one seems to like Tech Crunch, we still all read it and occasionally they’re even right about something.
That something is this:
The above image is directly from Microsoft’s findings, as posted on their development blog.
Microsoft concluded that the command bar is underused because it’s not robust enough, and upon further investigation found that few of the common actions were even to be found there. They are looking for what they need to add. The solution, obviously, is to pump up the command bar until it becomes equally usable.
Which as we know is the bane of good design.
Apple would have concluded that the command bar is underused because it’s not effective. They are looking for what they need to subtract. Whether the items necessary are in it or not, the user preference towards context menus and keyboard shortcuts seems clear. The solution is to eliminate the command bar altogether and find a way to make the more popular access methods even more accessible.
Which is often restricting.
But it does reflect the fundamental theories of design – both UI and otherwise.
I think a lot of industrial designers add and add and add until they’ve achieved this feature rich thing, but quite often that thing is hard to intuitively use and is usually a complete disaster in the end.
What we should be doing, as designers, is removing the extraneous, the things that the data shows aren’t useful, the things that we know aren’t useful. The outcome is not a design as much as it’s the ideal form for that function. This is the core philosophy behind most of Rams’ work, and can be found in most other great designers (Corbu, Eames, Rohe etc) including, of course, Ive’s own Apple products.
Because really, as a designer, do you ever want a product that looks like the menu system of that first Microsoft UI screenshot? Would you ever put your name on it and say “Yeah, this is the best I could come up with.” No. Of course not. Because it’s rubbish.
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