Throw tomatoes at me, scold me for something that's apt for a #thingsdnsays tweet, or what have you, but I can never take these articles seriously when they're posted on a blog that has terrible readability, or looks awful.
Not a fan of Jakob Nielsen, eh?
Nielsen has been criticized by some graphic designers for failing to balance the importance of other user experience considerations such as typography, readability, visual cues for hierarchy and importance, and eye appeal. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Nielsen_(usability_consultant)
It’s silly to dismiss good advice, even if it’s poorly presented.
You're right, Don Norman's just some nobody who happened to invent user experience as a discipline, won numerous related awards, and wrote the definitive book on the topic. Unless his blog is pretty, I'm def not gonna listen to what he says.
Edited to add: Didn't intend to be mean. But complaining with an apologetic preamble is still complaining. Maybe you should offer to re-design his site. Might open some great opportunities ;)
There's a point where it stops being meaningful, and ends up being generic industry commentary that is widely accepted based on who said it.
I think there's certainly something to be said about individuals who acquire awards and laudations to their name, but actions and portfolios of actual design work speak louder than multiple books full of nice award-winning words in my opinion.
This is coming from the guy who wrote, "It's easier to criticize than to create." as a MOTD on DN. What has Don Norman actually designed? The guy is an engineer. And if that's his stance, where are his metrics? What are his measurements? Where is the engineering discipline of this highly regarded individual?
This is an opinion piece.
Uh... he worked at Apple for several users, and was the first "User experience designer" there. Allow me to quote wikipedia:
In 1993, Norman left UCSD to join Apple Computer, initially as an Apple Fellow as a User Experience Architect (the first use of the phrase "User Experience" in a job title), and then as the Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group.
That's very nice, but if your life is about user experience, and you criticize something for design's sake and slap that opinion on something poorly designed, I can't take you seriously.
Working for Apple, or having worked for Apple doesn't mean every opinion you have about design is absolute truth.
Until you have some accomplishments that rival that of the industry experts, your opinion has little weight and you command the respect of no one.
Who are you?
"This is coming from the guy who wrote, "It's easier to criticize than to create." as a MOTD on DN. What has Don Norman actually designed? The guy is an engineer. And if that's his stance, where are his metrics? What are his measurements? Where is the engineering discipline of this highly regarded individual?"
Your ignorance is showing.
Tell that to Karl Marx.
Have to admit I agree a bit. While he does have a history, and has made many contributions to the UX community his website is an example of poor UX. (ie. small font size, long line length (approx. 50-60 characters), mass of distracting colors, layout issues, etc.)
Circa 2005-ish in full play here!
Dude is too busy arming the next generation of designers with his wisdom. He's pretty old, doubt he cares about updating his site to the latest responsive bootstrap template lol
Just because a doctor is out of shape/not taking their own health advice doesn't make their advice any less credible. If you are an expert you command authority by definition. Let's see what you can contribute to the field of user centered design.
It has decent contrast. Not an insanely long line length. The navigation is clean. There's no bleeding animations, looping videos, etc. to distract me. Scrolling bloody works.
Seems better that about 90% of the stuff I have to read online ;-)
Getting harder to use for who? The user in this case is very important factor. I would disagree with this statement. My grandmother who is 80 is using an iPhone just fine. She has no previous experiences with computers.
Well both of my parents have problems using ANY smartphone device. (iOS or Android) Oddly the easiest mobile OS experience they've had was on their Kindle Fire devices. They had few problems using the OS, and Amazon actually has awesome support for assisting them with any they did have.
One data point is not a significant sample size to draw conclusions from. Go to a retirement home and test your "grandmother hypothesis" and validate your assumptions.
Agreed. I feel like the design community is at a crossroads and we risk throwing away everything we have collectively learned up to this point in our quest for "slick UIs".
I cannot agree or disagree when their is limited evidence to suggest that "Apple's products are getting harder to use..."
Since it's coming from Don Norman this is the truth.
In college, we referred to him as "The Don."
I was an Android user and I've been using Apple for last six months.
I can say, that Apple iPhone has the worst Usability in many factors. Sometime I wanted to throw away. Only reason I keep that for testing responsibility for clients.
If you never used Android, you are missing something..
I'd say both have issues. The radically different UX between devices is why I don't use Android.
Both Android and iOS have design concerns, and with each iteration some are solved while new ones are created. I think blatantly stating that Apple, and Android are ignoring principles of design is insulting to their design teams, and while some of his examples may have merit…some are absurd.
“..the magic mouse is different from the trackpad which is different from the iPad…”. -Don Norman
Well trackballs are different from mice which are different from joysticks. I’m sorry but you can’t always unify the same experience across completely different input devices. And rumors are flying that iPads, and iPhones are getting force touch (same as on current generation MacBooks). Seems like Apple is working to unify in that area.
”Inscrutable icons litter the face of the devices even though the research community has long demonstrated that people cannot remember the meaning of more than a small number of icons.” -Don Norman
Where is Don seeing a large number of icons without labels? I look at Safari on iOS and I see three that are apparent. The mobile platform concept itself doesn’t allow a lot of icons within the available screen real estate. Notes has three icons on it’s home view, and 5 when editing a note. All of them except for the draw functionality (iOS 9) are used throughout Apple’s apps. So you learn once, and it’s the same in all of their apps.
Don needs to review older versions of iOS: http://iosguides.net/ios-7-apps-comparisons/ since the design hasn’t changed much beyond decluttering, and making things more readable. Same use of icons, and lack of labeling in the same apps.
And Android has made HUGE leaps in improving it's design language, and UX. The problem with Android is the varying experience between devices, and that's beyond Google's control.
Maybe the "detailed and comprehensive article" will bring things into perspective. I'm sure it will be an interesting read.
All of these are great points.
There are so many different applications and uses for user engagement. Whether it be a mouse, trackpad, joystick, or touch, what ever fits best and works best for the user is the right choice. Pick your poison.
I agree too that users learn the meaning and use of icons without labels being required. Just the icon in itself echoes out simplicity for a visual aspect too. Another example of icons without labels is Snapchat. I can almost guarantee that frequent users know each action that the icons posses. New users will eventually get used to the "no labels" because humans best remember things in an aesthetic way, more so than a literal way.
Yep. Really I feel Don is attention seeking instead of trying to inform. I mean looking at the updates coming in OS X and iOS you can see that Apple is working on design consistency.
El Capitan has the same general look as Yosemite, but includes a new systemwide font --- San Francisco. The same as in iOS.
OS X's window management feature, Mission Control, has also been revamped introducing a new Split View feature that mirrors the iOS 9 multitasking feature on the iPad.
Mail on Mac supports new iOS-style gestures for managing messages. Sharing of gestures between the platforms (something Don says they aren't doing).
Metal support is on Mac and iOS something this isn't visual design, but it is a development design choice that will likely make development across the platforms easier.
On a large screen, it can sometimes be difficult to locate a small cursor, especially when waking a Mac. In El Capitan, there's a new cursor feature that causes the cursor to grow larger when you move your finger back and forth on a trackpad or shake a connected mouse so you can see right where it is on the screen. This is brilliant design UX.
Does he really think the general population is having trouble with their devices? Or is he just an aging specialist mired in the nitty-gritty of his profession?
"How Apple Ruined Design" sure is gonna sell a lot of ads.
Click bait at its finest.
there's no ads on his site. suggest you google the author before attacking his integrity.
I never insulted his integrity but I understand how you might have read that in my comment. Apologies to Don Norman if he saw my comment and also read the same thing from it.
Edit: to elaborate, I can imagine the likes of FastCo Design and BusinessInsider jumping on this and hiding the link to the original somewhere in the middle-last paragraphs.
A bit of anecdata.
I've been doing usability testing (amongst other things) for about 20 years.
These days I see folk using Apple systems fairly often having problems like:
- missing that areas can scroll
- missing tabs
- not understand what's happening with window zoom
- not understand how to delete things
- … and so on …
All. Of. The. Damn. Time.
All the sort of things Norman talks about in this piece. Because of lack of contrast, perceived affordances, etc.
20 years ago, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago — not so much. Not never of course, but not so much.
I have these conversations with other folk who do usability testing. They report the same sort of issues.
So yeah, from my perspective "Apple's products are getting harder to use" is spot on.
Not unusable. Just worse than they used to be.
But then perhaps I'm just another grumpy, complaining old man ;-)
^ What he said
This is a great perspective. I think one of the difficulties — that Norman touches on briefly — is that Apple of today is managing touch interfaces whereas Apple of Norman's heyday was all on the desktop. Affordances on touch are hard. I do think Apple — and indeed everyone working in touch — can be working harder on this problem. But I don't envy them!
I agree to a point. I think our impression of Apple's declining UI is a direct result of them serving constantly growing, global user base. The more people you touch, the more things you do, the more the core of what you've built strains to hold together. You can never appease everyone and, to be fair, I'm not sure they could ever make a silver bullet of usability any more. At some point you are forced to make rules/patterns/reactions standard... but that will always be tested in scale.
Also, I think it's important to note that while the Apple ecosystem can be frustrating and restrictive (and sometime not all that intuitive)... at the same time Android spent years flailing around with multiple operating systems for multiple devices that didn't really build on each other all that well.
He may be right that their usability is getting poorer, but he addressed it in a poor way. If you make a claim like that, you should be SPECIFIC. Where specifically is it harder to use? Show me. Then I can agree and relate to you. Don't just say something sucks because that will ignite a slew of fanboys and haters.
I do agree.
It's almost as if old people like complaining about things.
I can agree with some points made, but in the long run, better UX always wins. We are free to solve all the usability problems and start a Kickstarter for a mobile OS.
Put it in front of a child & watch what happens.
My 18mo old has no problem navigating an iPad or iPhone.. when I got my Apple Watch he basically learned faster than me, I had to watch the videos.