The problem is, like the sugar levels in modern food, people have become accustomed to the level of decoration in modern products, and come to expect it.
Weening them off it is tricky and risks disappointing them, like the disappointing empty flavour of diet coke.
Show me the data that supports this.
Decorations, like all other things, are a tool to use. Ex- Icons on Japanese websites make them usable for me. They convey messages.
I don't see how his point is saying anything besides function over form in long form.
If every product on market was taken to it's barest minimum aesthetic forms, a new problem would be presented. Things wouldn't stand out.
The solution? Change things visually to make them stand out.
Then the cycle would repeat and aesthetic choices would vary wildly including things the Author decided are "sugar", and "trendy".
Nothing he cited was entirely "useless". Especially the icons.
It's perfectly valid to construct decoration, especially if it's purpose was to be decorative. (Nearly everything on dribble)
In the Dropbox example, the menu on the left doesn't look cleaner because they got rid of icons... they got rid of options. Slimmed down choice, made the text larger, and inverted the color paradigm for clarity. They did clean up the action icons and folder icons though, but didn't address their visual weight so that update is definitely more about layout and IA than about visual sugar.
Hot take time:
Dieter's turntable looks like a toy. Idk if I'd rather have that over the Fairchild, and I'm one of us.
P.S. Vanilla ice cream sucks, chocolate is better.
I must agree with you, the article make wild assumptions and is very light on content and argument to support it. I know it makes a valid point of over abusing visual stimuli in order to create uncluttered and clearer interfaces, but it does so by generalizing certain UI elements and providing examples that do not necessarily fall into the problem-space in discussion.
PS: Chocolate ice cream beats up vanilla any day, and if it's going to be vanilla some cookie in it does make the experience more fulfilling. :D
I disagree with the author (and this sentiment) mainly because of the really weird thing that front end developers and UX designers do in that they look at all other types of design and decide to use their scales to decide if something unrelated is worthy or unworthy.
The first dribble post was an experiment in animation in combination with a futuristic rendering of a platform that doesn't exist. He doesn't have anywhere enough information to determine if there is meaning. Just enough information to decide that, "well there are shadows and animations and shadows, and I don't understand it, so it's bad. It's being abused."
And it caught his attention enough to be something that made him think of it long enough to incite a rant.
It's on a site made to get attention, and it got his.
I don't even think it looks all that good but it's super obvious they aren't submitting this to a company. And they aren't putting anywhere near as profound a meaning on it as he is.
The dropbox example is horrible because the icons did serve a purpose, on this company's site sure, they've become global enough that they likely do have their site in multiple languages.
Icons serve the purpose of providing information in ways other than language, a huge issue that can be overcome with design.
A person creating work isn't so much the person to assign a piece of work to a trend as it is the person viewing it.
tl;dr- The article isn't very good and reads like a lot of click bait "expert" articles. It makes the mistake of applying a blanket set of rules to all situations and judging them from there.
I wouldn't walk up to a mom and pop grocery shop and ask them if they are hitting their KPI's just like I would walk into coke asking them if they've managed to sell 10 cokes and ask if they need me to make a poster.
So why apply User Experience rules to all forms of design, including those that are closer to art for arts sake.
I especially agree with your last statement. He grabbed an example that was more art than design, and attacked it for not being design.
His points about product design and usability are valid (albeit a bit obvious), but it seems a bit close-minded to reject anything that isn't strictly following industry principles. Is it not okay to have fun and make something visually interesting? Or is it just not okay that other people are celebrating and liking it when people publish this type of work?
Honestly, exploring concept art in UI design is often where great ideas come from. Every once in a while, exploratory visual eye-candy can be used in a practical, functional way.
Pre iOS 7 everybody was abusing visual sugar as well, maybe we're slowly creeping back in the same old habits.
IMHO, notifications have the same "sugar-y" effect. The status quo almost forces companies to behave in certain ways to keep users engaged. Like the sugary foods - users expect it.
Was discussing this about Twitter, on Twitter yesterday. Pushing up the dwell time for casual users (In case you missed it, what your friends liked, RT's out of context etc) at the expense of everyone else.
Yay! Obligatory stab at Dribbble! Honestly, if you look at Dribbble and get the rage for the lack of context or UX sensibilities then you've missed the whole point of Dribbble.
The Dropbox example was a bit meh, and as pointed out by others, iconography can help with scanning things, differentiation and association. Surely three things that can only help with the UX.
The 'sugar' when used wisely can delight and add flavour.
Thank you for this wonderful insight, Linkbait-Article-#32403-on-the-subject-of-eye-candy!
Nice use of paradigm. I was worried DN had lost its edge in the long time since I had posted here.
Threading posts appears to be a bit hit or miss though.
It helps a lot! Thanks. I`ll try it on our product.
I don't think it's as big a problem in the real world as the author would make it seem. Yes the internet is full pretty but ultimately useless designs, but those are made by designers out to get likes on dribbble. And yes, designers can sometimes care a little more than they should about aesthetics (I've done it). But real companies are not in it to create works of art, their goal is to make money and they do this by creating products that are useful to people.
Dropbox is the perfect example here because they have so many illustrations and flashy gifs on dribbble but their real website is just a sign up form and their real product is as bare bones and focused on functionality as they come. And it works so people pay for it.
I also think using the right kind of animation when transition from a page or creating an illustration to represent your company and playing around with it like MailChimp does can really make the product feel like a lot of attention went into it which in turn makes the user feel valued which in turn translates into economic value for the company.
Nobody does this in the real world, and I'd say the degree of 'sugar' in most products today is fine.
Great read! Thanks for sharing.