Monday, January 01, 2007

The genius of apple's user interface themes

Evaluation of Mac OS X user interface - Part 1 Themes ...

"Today I stumbled upon the article "15 things apple should change in Mac OS X" on, and found this "Why on earth would they say that?!" type comment:

"7. Inconsistent User Interface. Open iTunes, Safari and Mail. All three of these programs are Apple's own, and they're among the ones most likely to be used by Mac OS X users. So why do all three of them look different? Safari, like several other Apple-made apps such as the Finder and Address Book, uses a brushed-metal look. iTunes sports a flat gun-metal gray scheme and flat non-shiny scroll bars. Mail is somewhere in between: no brushed metal, lots of gun-metal gray, and the traditional shiny blue scroll bars. Apple is supposed to be the king of good UI, and in many areas, it is. But three widely used apps from the same company with a different look? Sometimes consistency isn't the hobgoblin of little minds."

I can imagine why people think like this, as usability experts often talk about how user interfaces should be consistent. It seems obvious that Apple area breaking this obvious usability guideline. I'm no usability expert by any means, but I suspect making all applications look the same would make life more difficult for users.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Apple know exactly what they are doing when they make all these different styles. Brushed metal is used for the calculator and address book. Mail uses a plastic theme. Pro apps use the 'pro grey' theme. Garage Band even has wood trims. Floating palettes (in iPhoto for example) use the inverted white text on black theme. Utilities use the standard theme. Here are some of the different styles:"    (Continued via    [Usability Resources]

Mac OS X Themes - Usability, User Interface Design

Mac OS X Themes


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