Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Open Source Programming IT

Improving UI and UX: Changing the "Open Source Is Ugly" Perception (opensource.com) 402

jones_supa writes: For four years, Garth Braithwaite has been working at Adobe on open source projects as a design and code contributor. In addition to his work at the company, he also speaks at conferences about the power of design, improving designer-developer collaboration, and the benefits of open source. Still, he argues that the user experience is weak in many open source projects. One of the largest contributing factors is the lack of professional designers contributing to open source projects. Secondary to that, there are open source project owners who are unaware of the value of design or are unsure where to start with the design process. In an interview to Opensource.com, Braithwaite talks about the UX/UI topic, and gives some honorable mentions of projects that get it right.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Improving UI and UX: Changing the "Open Source Is Ugly" Perception

Comments Filter:
  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:28PM (#51155109)

    Mozilla put UI/UX people in charge of Firefox and destroyed the product. I'll take my "ugly" open source programs any day.

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:51PM (#51155255) Homepage

      The problem is that UX/UI people like to invent new and exciting stuff, while they should be making stuff familiar and boring.

      An interface that a user doesn't notice while using it, is an interface done right.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:59PM (#51155291)

        From what I've seen and read a lot of newer UI/UX people are ignoring everything that the UI/UX people learned and built up over the last 20+ years. Instead of learning what works first and how to improve it, they inject their own ideas and follow what's popular. What we end up with is a "dark ages" of sorts of innovation where we take steps backwards and are stuck with it. I agree keep the old / ugly UI until we remember how to bring the past forward with us.

        • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:31PM (#51155401)

          A lot of "new UI/UX people" seem to be following wherever a tiny number of people from very famous tech firms lead. Unfortunately, this remains true despite those tech firms themselves producing some of the most horrible user experiences I can recall in a multi-decade career recently, often as a direct result of following the same path themselves.

          For example, on a lot of web or graphic design forums, if you even try suggesting that flat design is almost always a bad idea that is built on poorly chosen basic design principles, you have a pretty good chance of being downvoted/modded/censored into oblivion. This remains true even if you try to present a neutral, objective case based on specific examples of poor usability, never mind trying to engage in wider debate about artificially limited tools leading to over-emphasis of icons (even though icons are frequently a bad choice for almost anything), over-emphasis of animations (even though animations often do more harm than good), trendy large and lightweight fonts harming readability, lack of brand differentiation because of the near-uniform appearance of everything, and so on.

          And don't even think about going beyond generic flat design to criticising Apple's recent design efforts or Google's Material Design, because you might as well just hand in your geek card on the spot.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:16PM (#51155605)

            In the end, the actual problem is that the people doing most UI/UX design these days are Millennials (aka Hipsters).

            An integral part of these people's identity is that they're always right about everything, even when they're absolutely 100% wrong.

            They've been raised by Baby Boomers (who we long thought to be the worst generation; Millennials have proven otherwise) to have a total inability to handle criticism. Legitimate criticism is typically mislabeled as "bullying" by Millennials. Perversely, because "bullying" is now allegedly involved, this allows Millennials to treat the wrongly-labeled "bully" far worse than the mislabeled "bully" ever treated anyone else!

            This is why it's not unusual to see Millennials ban people from online discussion, for example. Millennials tend to be petty tyrants, hypocritically claiming to support freedom and justice, while simultaneously showing extreme contempt for both by engaging in censorship.

            When you combine Millennials and their rotten philosophy with something like software UI design, the result is a complete disaster. Millennials automatically assume that their awful work is correct, even when users very plainly explain what the problems are. Millennials, being sure that they're correct, either deny or ignore the very valid complaints that users bring up. In the end the users typically move to an alternative piece of software, if one is available.

            Now before you start with the "get off my lawn" crap, this isn't about age. If whatever generation comes after the Millennials can undo all of the damage that the Millennials have done, then I welcome their effort!

            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:53PM (#51155811)

              Maybe if you established logical arguments, people would actually listen to your point? Your whole tirade seems to be about some group of people whom you either dislike or don't properly understand. Now, are you able to discuss the matter rationally, or do you try to undermine other people's efforts by complaining about them behind their backs?

              From your post, I suspect the latter, and indeed, such office politics could be labeled "bullying" as it's a rather underhanded way of sabotaging other people.

              Just because you believe in "a correct implementation", doesn't mean other people have your exact priorities to work on! I've heard countless tirades from "experts" and "specialists" who simply are stuck in their ways and refuse that there are more than their way to do things, or that their precious system is just one of many better and more efficient ways to do the same things.

              Of course, new employees will repeat old mistakes. It's because your culture is ass-backwards . Not to worry: In a few years, it'll become theirs. It'll be built on the foundation that you have laid out.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I'm pretty sure that Firefox 4 and later, GNOME 3, Windows 8, Chrome, and Slashdot Beta support what the GP is saying, and disprove what you're saying! There were lots of good software UIs developed by Greatest Generation'ers, by Boomer Generation'ers, and by Generation X'ers. I mean, these are the people who took the craft from not even existing and turned it into one with sensible and standardized idioms that worked wonderfully. Then around 2005 the Millennial Generation started getting involved, and thin

            • An integral part of these people's identity is that they're always right about everything, even when they're absolutely 100% wrong.

              "These people?" Are you talking about 90% of the programmers I've met in my life? Also, 90% of the lawyers, and 90% of the teachers, and 90% of the hippies, and 90% of the rednecks......let's face it, people just don't like to be wrong.

          • A lot of "new UI/UX people" seem to be following wherever a tiny number of people from very famous tech firms lead.

            This is the world of fashion in general - trend spotters, hoping to be able to call out "the next big thing" before it hits often enough to make a name for themselves.

            It really has no place in UX, unless you're designing a trendy product like Candy Crush.

          • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @07:34PM (#51155971)

            I believe the problem with UI/UIX is more general than people realize. In short, it's the classic solution searching for a problem. For years and years, we've had loads of small improvements and innovations in UI implementations. It's really come a long way from the very first attempts at it (hello DOS and mainframe systems!), but it seems for the longest time the industry got stuck in the typical Mac OS-look. So in the late 90's, there was a surge of "cool" music players (WinAMP) and whatnot, that started to break from the old principles, with apparent success and "coolness" that others wanted to possess too.

            The problem is, whoever tries to copy the true innovators, are often really bad at the game, so you get these really bad clones, and clones of those again. It's sort of a downward spiral where the herd is constantly trying to up their game, hoping for the same success as the true innovators had. In the meanwhile, these old innovators died [winamp.com], probably because, despite being good innovators, they were terrible at business!

            This fad-driven development (FDD) has lead to horrible design-ideas over the years. Acolytes tend to swarm to these like flies on shit: hiding infrequently-used menu choices, unnecessarily increasing complexity, nagging popup notifications (ie. in taskbar), hiding the menu itself(!), adding sidebars with questions in Control Panel for "extra navigation" (MS Windows), limiting usability (everything Apple), forcing touch-interface onto suspecting desktop users (MS Windows), extra widgets, applets and whatnot in addition to the iconized desktop (MS Windows), forcing 3D requirements to a 2D experience (Unity), ...

            Don't read me wrong: There's alot of good intentions and some good ideas in the UI/UIX-space that have far evolved since the early days, days where just displaying a window with a menu required arcane amounts of magic. For instance, W3C accessibility, universal and reactive design, and whatever they call it these days. Much of it are not really all new ideas, but it's compiled and packaged in a more understandable, copyable and standardized format, to more effectively distribute the core ideas.

            The problem is, for true innovation to happen, there has to be total ownership and compensation for the innovators. When that doesn't happen, they merely become followers and copiers, which really doesn't bring that much innovation on the table. True innovation is also more risky, so you both pay more and risk more. In most cases, it makes sense for businesses to lean on the conservative side. Capitalism along with most human organisation, sadly enough, rewards the averages more consistently in the longer run, and need to heed both business and politics as well.

            It all boils down to the basic requirements problem: What is the problem you want solved?

            There's just never one final answer to that question.

            Captcha: detail

          • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @08:03PM (#51156073)

            For example, on a lot of web or graphic design forums, if you even try suggesting that flat design is almost always a bad idea that is built on poorly chosen basic design principles, you have a pretty good chance of being downvoted/modded/censored into oblivion.

            Oh - this - so much this! The backlash against skeuomorphics has produced some of the most boring and bland and ucking fugly interfaces seen by humans.

            It's like someone said "Good design is a square of a primary color, with a letter in it." To me, the problem is across the board - UI's are getting ugly, like we are returning to Commodore 64 days when there just wasn't enough resolution to make nice looking stuff.

            And don't even think about going beyond generic flat design to criticising Apple's recent design efforts or Google's Material Design, because you might as well just hand in your geek card on the spot.

            Patience, ABV. Design, like automobiles, goes through periods of massive ugly. And that is exactly where we are at right now. This too shall pass.

            • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @07:39AM (#51157689)

              Oh - this - so much this! The backlash against skeuomorphics has produced some of the most boring and bland and ucking fugly interfaces seen by humans.

              It's like someone said "Good design is a square of a primary color, with a letter in it." To me, the problem is across the board - UI's are getting ugly, like we are returning to Commodore 64 days when there just wasn't enough resolution to make nice looking stuff.

              There has been an overreaction, certainly, but that's due to people not listening to the complaints about skeuomorphism.

              The problem with skeuomorphic design is that it ignores the basic principles of what an "icon" is, and how the human brain works. The point is that the gradings and shadings and pseudo-3D projections on Windows XP icons were slower to process cognitively than their Windows 95 equivalents. The trick to a good icon is to find the simplest unambiguous "form" that prototypes the concept to the human brain. A good example of flat design is the icon for iBooks on iOS -- it's a minimal unambiguous representation of a book.

              A contrasting bad example would be the icon for Facetime. It's not instantly recognisable as a video camera, and even if it was, "video camera" is not a synonym of "video call".

              I specifically used two examples from iOS because this isn't about my views on Apple (the iPad was given to me, my laptop runs Windows and Linux), but just about the principles. Flat design is not a panacea -- it is just one principle of many that make up UI/UX design. Flat design on its own is useless -- flat design is supposed to make it easier to apply the other principles.

        • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:33PM (#51155687) Homepage Journal

          From what I've seen and read a lot of newer UI/UX people are ignoring everything that the UI/UX people learned and built up over the last 20+ years.

          The GUI was a solution to a problem, and the problem was the command line.

          Those who remember the command line, linux dweebs aside, are dead or retired. Correction: those who remember having nothing but a command line are dead or retired.

          Thus the current generation have forgotten what problemns have been solved, and they're creating them again. Bizarre cryptic commands, weird gestures on an unmarked screen area: both violate discoverability.

          • by mrvan ( 973822 )

            those who remember having nothing but a command line are dead or retired

            Now this is just silly. I'm mid-30 and I started computing* on an Acorn Electron (around '85?). Although Windows 3.x was released a couple years later, I used MSDOS from the moment my parents acquired a PC until windows 95 (admittedly in addition to a Acorn Archmides, which was ahead of Windows by at least 10 years at that time).

            Nowadays I adminster a number of linux servers, and although I'm sure I could set up X forwarding, as far as I'm concerned I have nothing but the CLI to run them. I do use X forward

            • by lucm ( 889690 )

              until windows 95 (admittedly in addition to a Acorn Archmides, which was ahead of Windows by at least 10 years at that time)

              I think you've got a bad case of "he was my first" syndrome.

          • Correction: those who remember having nothing but a command line are dead or retired.

            Well...I'm not dead (yet), but I am close to retirement. And yes, I'm one of those cranky old fucks who remembers having nothing but a command line. I welcomed the advent of the GUI (and still do).

            There's a time and a place for the command line and a time and a place for a GUI. And I confess, I think GUIs (when done right) are great 99% of the time. But sometimes a command line is truly da' shizzle, dawg!

            • I think GUIs (when done right) are great 99% of the time. But sometimes a command line is truly da' shizzle, dawg!

              Absolutely. Right tool for the job and all.
      • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iampiti ( 1059688 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:13PM (#51155343)
        +1 to that.
        To me a computer is a tool and I find arbitrary change in UI irritating.
        The concepts of menus, toolbars and so on that have been mostly the same for 30 years on GUIs and now are being discarded as obsolete by modern designers.
        It's logical that the interfaces for touchscreens are different but the problem is that now those interfaces are being applied to desktop programs as well. And they're less efficient and certainly not optimal for desktop apps.
        I don't want to spoil the party for anyone. You can have your "mobile" UIs on desktop PCs if you want as long as I get the option to use the classic, dense and featureful UI, but the problem is that option is available less and less often
        • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Interesting)

          by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:29PM (#51155665)

          +1 to that.

          To me a computer is a tool and I find arbitrary change in UI irritating.

          And +2 to your comment. I use a computer to Get Stuff Done. Hipsterism in the UI (look at Windows 8 if you want to see the worst of it) works against me, not for me.

          I don't mind a bit of style, but really, a plain old boring interface that enhances my ability to work is what I want.

          Maybe that's why I like text-mode interfaces (I'm a big Emacs user). Text mode is dull and boring but it lets me do my work effectively.

          Granted, everyone doesn't need or want to go to such a basic interface level. But how helpful are dancing cursors, animated icons, illegible fonts, and all the other "hip" things? My computer interface isn't a fashion statement, it's a tool!

        • by mrvan ( 973822 )

          To me a computer is a tool and I find arbitrary change in UI irritating.

          Which is actually a very good reason to avoid most graphical interfaces. Icons jump all over the place, toolbars move, start buttons disappear and re-appear, Unities are invented and discarded.. but things like ls and rm stay put, and the interface convention / syntax of "command --option=value argument > file" also hasn't changed.

          If your computer is an important tool, spend the couple days weaning yourself off window managers and desktop environments, and breathe out a sigh of relief.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:26PM (#51155383) Journal

        An interface that a user doesn't notice while using it, is an interface done right.

        Absolutely. In 2015, there's no reason I should have to pay any attention to your interface. If I notice your UI, you've failed.

      • "The problem is that UX/UI people like to invent new and exciting stuff, while they should be making stuff familiar and boring."

        Which is completely unlike non-UI/UX open source programming, right?

      • The problem is that UX/UI people like to invent new and exciting stuff, while they should be making stuff familiar and boring.
        An interface that a user doesn't notice while using it, is an interface done right.

        Correct. Also, too many designers feel the need to fiddlefuck with stuff that works fine, hoping to make their mark or revolutionize something or other that doesn't need to be revolutionized.

        I think (correct me if I'm wrong) it was the fucksticks at GNOME who decided to remove the upper-right minimize/maximize/close buttons, because fuck users, they don't know what they need or want even if they tell us what they need or want. Even if they complain bitterly and leave in droves! Fuck those users, we'll decid

        • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @10:19PM (#51156545) Journal

          My gripe with GNOME, which shows how (IMHO) brain-dead the UI/UX people developing GNOME are is adding things to the Panel. In Gnome 1/2. this is achieved with a right-mouse button on the panel. In Gnome 3, it requires Meta-right-mouse key (I think). Why this change? It's not reasonably discoverable. The simple right-mouse-key on the panel does not perform some other important function (it does nothing).

          I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks that adding an extra key that must be pressed to get the same functionality as was achieved without it, unless there is a really good reason, is stupid.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @02:55AM (#51157143) Homepage

        The problem is that UX/UI people like to invent new and exciting stuff, while they should be making stuff familiar and boring.

        An interface that a user doesn't notice while using it, is an interface done right.

        Damn straight! I hate it when these jerks start trying to fluff my interface, or massage my paradigm. Leave it alone, it is a tool. That is why I chose open source, because I just want the tool that does the thing, and if I want it to do something else, I can add it.

        First they start diddling the paradigms and they say, "oh you can still use the old one" and then when a critical security patch is required, they say, "oh gosh, well you can just upgrade if you want it to be secure."

        Nothing goes to hell faster than a popular project. Give me a boring project that is grudgingly maintained with a few lines of bug fixes every few years. I'm still using gimp, it still works the same as in the 90s, and it still does all the stuff I need. I can still write plugins, now in new languages too. And it still looks the same way that people said was "ugly" and all sorts of nasty things. And the features are still in the same places. Being "ugly," for whatever reason people thought, never once stopped me from getting beautiful results with it.

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @07:51PM (#51156037)

      As far as I can see, hiring a "professional" UI/UX person is roughly equivalent to replacing your amateur alchemist with a professional. At the end of the day, you still don't have any gold.

      I once had the misfortune to work on a project that was blessed withTWO UI experts. Those two dudes agreed on absolutely nothing except that the existing UI sucked.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @06:19AM (#51157511)

        By an odd coincidence, about 20 minutes after I posted that, my wife was confronted with a family emergency and needed driving instructions to a city around 400km from here. Google maps used to have a straightforward interface that worked well (albeit a bit slowly) with just about any browser. But about 6-8 months ago they replaced it with a modernized, low-contrast, monstrosity with one of the more opaque UIs I've ever encountered. Apparently it only works with a "modern browser", because I had to go through three PCs and 5 browsers to find one (Chromium as it happens) that would actually display and print driving instructions. I'm sure the folks at Google are very proud of their shiny new UI. I can't think why.

        I think perhaps I am expected to upgrade the user end of this workflow. i.e. I need to be replaced with a more modern user.

    • Right, poorly designed GUI are not specific to open source projects. There is a lot of commercial products with poorly designed interface. In fact, coming with a good and sound design is hard. That's why over years there were rules written to guide the design of GUI. A lot of studies on how users are using GUI and other human interfaces are required to understand and decide on a good design. Even some commercial products don't get it right. Corporations are not always willing to spend dollars on the GUI. Ev
  • No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:32PM (#51155133)

    It's not a surprise that many of the larger open source projects lack professional UI/UX designers. These groups tend to become cliques where anyone who is not a programmer is seen as less than worthy. Who the hell wants to try to assist groups with attitudes like that? There are so many cases where professionalism is missing in the entire equation.

    Many programmers need to wake up and understand that it's their own staunch idealism that is driving people who could greatly improve things away.

    • The problem with UI is less a design issue on 'how it looks' but more a design issue of the framework.
      GTK looks like a bastard between Motive, Sun OpenView and MS Foundation Classes. On API level as well as on look&feel. WxWindows e.g. is more or less an MS Foundation Classes clone.

      It is no wonder that programmers try to use a minimum of those 'APIs' to get 'stuff done'.

      Honestly: you don't need to be an expert about UI/UX to craft a working one, that looks good, too. Read a fucking book about it and be

  • Sigh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:32PM (#51155135) Homepage

    Maybe he should get his employer (Adobe) to get rid of that shitty sidebar that only disappears if you click the word Tools (despite no indication that's what's active) and which comes back every time you restart Acrobat Reader.

    No to mention the billion-and-one things that can pop over the top of your PDF. Or the services, scheduled tasks, taskbar icons, startup entries, etc. that are recreated all the fucking time even when you disable them and tell it not to update. Or the horrendous options dialogs that hide all the options.

    People who live in glass houses...

    • Yeah, I reacted similarly. Not that it's the fault of this particular individual, as far as I know, but - when I think about good UI and/or UX, I tend to think about the opposite of my way-too-frequent experiences with Adobe software.

      I'm also trying to think what Adobe has actually originated versus what they've absorbed. The tools which are now part of the Creative Suite were already a bloated mess when Macromedia still existed... but Adobe, somehow, made them worse.

      • Yeah, I reacted similarly. Not that it's the fault of this particular individual, as far as I know

        Have you looked at his blog? I'd say that beyond reasonable doubt it probably is.

  • Gnome 3 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:41PM (#51155185)

    One of the largest contributing factors is the lack of professional designers contributing to open source projects

    How about that, he wants someone to pay him to fuck up other people's projects and wants to browbeat those people into letting him fuck up their projects by saying they need professional design.

    "open source is ugly, let's change things" is what turned Gnome 2, the best desktop environment of its day, into Gnome 3, which no one who has a choice uses.

    "professional designers" can go to hell.

    • by SumDog ( 466607 )

      I was thinking of Gnome 3 in this regard.

      Also, they mention OSS projects are "ugly" but...did I miss in the article where they mention specific examples? I mean all GTK stuff looks ugly if you don't have a theme engine installed. Gtk3 widgets are the opposite, where they tried to be pretty by default and ended up being fucking ugly and useless.

    • Isn't Unity a fairly styled / stylish environment? Or, is it still "ugly" because it hasn't completely transformed itself into a tablet full of quivering icons yet?

    • by spauldo ( 118058 )

      That process didn't start with GNOME 3. GNOME 2 is a result of the exact same thing. And I'll enthusiastically disagree with your assessment that it was the "best desktop environment of its day." Maybe it was great if you were coming from Windows, but coming from earlier versions of GNOME or from other UNIX DEs, it was lackluster at best.

      Sun provided UX people for GNOME because it wanted to ditch CDE (ironically, right after it had switched to it from OpenLook). The Sun people came in and said, "fuck th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:41PM (#51155187)

    I edit code using emacs. It would make any "UX designer" throw up. To the clueless, it's "user experience" looks horrifically bad, especially how I have mine configured up old-school without menus or GUI buttons. Just text and a mode line.

    But you know what? I can utterly, totally, annihilate people using better "UX quality" text editors when it comes to heavy duty text editing. I've had people literally gasp out loud watching what can be done.

    I'll make a similar claim for other SW I've used, such as CAD systems, which are all but incomprehensible for novices but let experts work magic.

    People mistake "ease of newbies being able to do something" with "expert usability". These are not the same. Most of the time, UX designers optimize for the first thing at the expense of the second. It's one thing if you can manage to get both, and I'm not saying that's impossible or that it never happens. But most of the time when UX experts get their hands on something, actual usability for experts is sacrificed on the alter of hand-holding for novices.

    That's even becoming true of desktops now. Configurability is the enemy: it's too confusing, and we must not have anything which might require thought, no matter how useful it is. Computing is trending towards playskool-levels of being dumbed down.

    • People mistake "ease of newbies being able to do something" with "expert usability".

      They do. They also confuse looking good with working well.

      I'd say the latter is actually the bigger problem. Flat == shit.

      • I'd say the latter is actually the bigger problem. Flat == shit.

        Agreed.

        I'm forced to use Windows 10 at work and its flat design is infuriating. Sometimes it's hard to tell where one window ends or overlaps another. A little shadowing or texture or ridge or any-fucking-thing would help, but oh no, can't have that. We gotta make it look like some jackass from PlaySkool(r) designed the interface.

        • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
          Not being a W10 user ... but doesn't the active window have a color that is different from the inactive windows? Or is the problem actually the inactive windows?
    • Totally agree. You need look no further than Windows 10:
      • Edge, the new, wonderful browser that Microsoft wants you to use has a mobile UI even on a desktop, and has very few options
      • Microsoft have stated that all the configuration will be moved to the new "Settings" app and the Control Panel will be removed

      One can imagine this trend will continue until Windows 10 for desktops is more or less the same as the one for mobiles.
      I'm not against of makings things easy for novices but not at the cost of making t

    • But you know what? I can utterly, totally, annihilate people using better "UX quality" text editors when it comes to heavy duty text editing. I've had people literally gasp out loud watching what can be done.

      Can you make a screen cast with stuff like this and explain it? I'm not asking to be a dick, I'm genuinely interested.

      • Can you make a screen cast with stuff like this and explain it?

        If I understand you correctly, yes. Emacs has good options for creating excellent presentation material. Not "slick" in the extreme way that can be done with PowerPoint, but presentations that communicate the material effectively, rather than just being overly showy (which, I think, distracts from the material).

        But I need to clarify two points.

        1) Emacs doesn't do things like, for instance, edit movies or do Disney-style animation. You will always need specialized tools when you reach some point.

        2) While Ema

    • by bidule ( 173941 )

      If the default interface is standard and efficient, you don't need to configure everything. There's nothing more hateful than using another person's computer and being unable to do anything because they configured everything away and none of it fits your own configuring away. I had to force my gitconfig on everyone at the office to get around this.

      That's the problem with many Open Source UX, they apply their vi/emacs knowledge and force the user to adapt to the program instead of adapting the program to the

    • So why not have both?
      To me, the best UX is the one which lets you point-n-click as well as use a hotkey/shortcut for each button or command.
      people gotta start somewhere, and people nowadays start with point-n-click, simply because they don't know all the hotkeys. If the point-n-click side is lacking, they will give up and go to the more friendly competitor - which might be worse from a functionality point of view but newbie-friendly.
      You also nee to remember that most users never pass amateur-level. All they

    • I used to work in customized environments (text editors, Autocad, etc.) and it did make my work faster - on my desk.

      Thing is, I don't only work on my desk, I also work with other people on their desks, especially when they are working with my code/designs/documents/whatever. So, in those environments, it's nice to have the same interface as them so you can tell them quickly and easily how to get around in your stuff - otherwise you stand there like a moron mumbling "if I were back on my machine I could do

    • This is what is wrong with open source! It mistakes good design with new-fangled, fewer features, and inefficient. And yet, I find that is only true of open source, not professional applications. Adding more features beyond 128 characters of ASCII, doesn't make programs suck (just the opposite).

      I've got a guy in the office just like you, only vim.

      You know what? He is only slightly faster than somebody with good sublime skills, and utterly lost when skills require him to do something more than text process

      • by spauldo ( 118058 )

        So, you have coworker with a different skillset, and you blame his choice of tools rather than the person himself?

        Did you come here from 4chan?

        I can't make out your point. Something about Unicode, some implication that open source doesn't offer features (which is false), a bunch of talk about various graphical stuff with the implication that those are unavailable in open source (the only one that might apply to is CAD, but I don't do CAD so I don't know), and then some sort of rant about GUI vs. CLI that d

  • by kevmeister ( 979231 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:41PM (#51155195) Homepage
    I'd say it's an all out war for worst design between GIMP and Photoshop. I really, really hate the design of both.

    Many people complain about the GIMP, but I started there and then had to learn Photoshop. The only reason people complain about GIMP is that they learned to use Photoshop first.

    Then again, Apple, who used to be king of very functional design has thrown that all away in the search for "clean" appearance... whether or not it is consistent or usable and Google (Android) seems determined to follow.

    • by melted ( 227442 )

      I'd even extrapolate further: in the vast majority of cases paople complain about X because they learned Y first. Except when it comes to Windows, which is a pile of garbage in absolute terms. :-)

    • What's wrong with Photoshop's interface? Please be specific, because personally I find it excellent to use.

    • Agreed about Photoshop and GIMP - if either was an Apple product, it would have one button that did the most common thing that their research says people do with the software, and anybody who needs to do something with more control would be directed to the Adobe download in the Apple store.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:42PM (#51155201)

    ...will ironically continue to wonder why the "Year of Linux on the Desktop" hasn't happened while simultaneously misunderstanding and dismissing UI/UX.

    • by west ( 39918 )

      Very apt.

      But they're also the people that feel that making a better product at a lower price should bring commercial success.

      And to be honest, it took me watching products I loved and could make a case were objectively better fail against products that had better "curb appeal" and marketing smarts to realize that assuming consumers were logical was utterly illogical, given the evidence.

      The real challenge is to make a product that appeals to people who know nothing about the product (but will be making purch

  • Shoot the messenger (Score:4, Informative)

    by frnic ( 98517 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:46PM (#51155227)

    It's nice to see slashdot hasn't lost it's ability to shoot the messenger. Instead addressing his comments, which are pretty much right on, everyone takes the opportunity to point out the designs they feel are worst ever.

    Fact is, Open Source will remain counter culture until it has full teams to meet the designs that the public wants, instead of designing to geeks desires.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:55PM (#51155269)

      full teams to meet the designs that the public wants, instead of designing to geeks desires.

      Why should it ever "meet the designs that the public wants?" Seriously, why would anyone consider that as a goal?

      What the public wants is well represented by Android, iOS, Windows, and the like. The public already has this. Please, let us technical people have one last bastion that doesn't suck for the technically literate. "The public" has its playgrounds, complete with malware, spyware, adware, bloatware, and all the rest. They got the "designs they wanted", and that's what they did with them.

      Leave the rest of us alone. We're quite happy here with our technically oriented, non-handholding, niche OS. Don't try to ruin what we have, after you already ruined what YOU had.

    • One could say that they are serving their target market quite well. What "feeds" an open source project? Users? No, developer-users.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @04:59PM (#51155295)
    The UI/UX experience is weak in many software projects, not just open source software projects.

    .
    The premise looks at the worst of the open source software projects and compares it to the best of the proprietary software projects. That's typically how these types of comparisons are done, with a huge anti-open source bias.

    If you ask the wrong questions, you're going to get the wrong answers.

    • by frnic ( 98517 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:06PM (#51155317)

      You make an excellent point, however, I would suggest that there are many more examples of "successful" open source projects that have poorly designed interfaces than successful commercial closed source projects.

      The issue I think is it is hard to get motivated to put the effort into UI design if your expected market is mostly geeks and maybe at best a few thousand users. If you are on a budget with a target audience of millions then it is easier to find the "time" or "motivation".

      • ... I would suggest that there are many more examples of "successful" open source projects that have poorly designed interfaces than successful commercial closed source projects. ...

        Maybe because there are fewer open source than proprietary projects.

        .
        Once again, the premise is wrong.

      • I would suggest that there are many more examples of "successful" open source projects that have poorly designed interfaces than successful commercial closed source projects.

        The is true if and only if you put successful in quotes.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:23PM (#51155379)

    In my experience, when a UI expert says you need to fix your interface, he is almost certainly right.

    When a "UX" "guru" says you need to "update" your "experience", he is almost certainly wrong.

  • by danomatika ( 1977210 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:29PM (#51155395)

    A good UI is hard and takes *a lot* of time. I don't think the problem is a lack of designers but a lack of designers who can really put in the *time* with developers to actually polish things.

    Sure, you can get things working to 90% but that last 10% that actually makes something quick and easy to use if HARD. Most open source projects just don't have enough people with enough time to devote to that last 10%.

    The "open source is ugly" premise is sometimes right but for the reason that we're used to closed source software companies actually having enough staff and devoting enough time to that last 10% ... some of the time ;)

  • Ok so there's a small problem about lack of aesthetics in open source user interfaces.

    But that problem pales in comparison to the poor usability of many FOSS applications.

    I think the usability problem there is a lot to do with an Aspergers-like (focussed on own knowledge and context, non-empathetic) trait among developers.
    A developer often makes the mistake of developing a UI that they themselves find easy and fast to use.
    They can't or won't empathize with another, non-technical user. They can't or won't th

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @05:35PM (#51155421) Homepage Journal

    Open Source is ugly when they copy Apple and Microsoft. Almost all of the big projects do it, and claim it as some kind of central feature or revelation in design.

  • Using "UI" and "UX" in the same sentence (or worse, as "UI/UX", as in some of the comments) showcases ignorance of the problems, solutions, and disciplines involved in making satisfying software.

    Most Linux projects could use a Costco-size box of UX helper, regardless of whether the UI works well or not.

    They're not orthogonal to each other, but fixing one doesn't necessarily fix the other.

    What's more, just like coders and EEs, UXers come in all shades of good, bad, heroic and abominable.

    Find a good one and w

  • I think there are two categories of projects, paid developer open source (e.g. Linux, Eclipse, etc.) and spare time open source. In the latter developers are largely scratching their own itch and generally won't be interested in spending a large chunk of their time effectively pushing pixels around, particularly when they could be adding a new feature.

    We need less back-seat coders in open source (people with an opinion but aren't actually writing code, e.g. all the anti-systemd whiners) and more people wil

  • Are you kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:33PM (#51155689)

    The whole 'UX' campaign is what destroyed usability in today's software. It traded graduated learning and functionality with fisher price level capabilities. Large fonts, wasted whitespace, and condescending status messages (think google, facebook, or the 'new' microsoft) rule the day. Search boxes are tacked on after the fact to make up for the useless interface. Of course, when one of these users wants to do more or have a problem fixed, it's technical people who have to get around the total lack of flexibility and technical feedback to fix the problem.

    Lack of 'professional' designers is not the issue. There are plenty of paid designers turning out crap designs, too.

    The argument made about developers vs users is also bullshit. In earlier times, the applications were developed by developers for use by ANYONE who wanted to do whatever it was the application was designed for. This forced anyone who wanted to do these things to learn how the application works. If it was designed well, the result was an educated, productive user who understands at least some of the underpinnings of the required workflow. Today's 'designing' assumes the user is an idiot and actively prevents any real mastery of the process. This results in garbage output.

    VLC has a good design? Did they even look at the options panel? It has to be one of the worst. My favorites are the textboxes that give no clue as to the datatype or format expected. Firefox hasn't had a good interface since they wiped out the menu system. The fact that classic theme restorer is one of the more popular addons for the program speaks volumes about 'UX'.

    Naturally, the guy being interviewed pointed out mostly pointless web 'apps', each with typical hipster names that have no relevance to their actual functionality. About what I'd expect from 'UX designers.'

  • by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @06:43PM (#51155755)

    Considering that the majority of Linux contributors are openly hostile to User Interface and Application "Look and Feel" considerations, and there is a general apathy to writing documentation to the "Hand Holding" level the average consumer demands, you only need to think about it for a moment to grasp the answer to "Is Linux ready for the Desktop" question.

    It isn't, and never will be; a Geek has to be there somehow or Grandma isn't buying, regardless of how useful it would be to her.

  • From TFA:
    "What should developers who can't attract designers do? They shouldn't wait around. If they can hire a designer, great, but .... developers should look to improve their own design skills"

    As a dev, I want every possible option and every possible option to be exposed to the user, 'cause that's how I think as I'm programming.

    As a designer, I know better-- a good interface HIDES options and choices from a user (and the less technical your expected audience, the more should be hidden) until necessary.

    There's been many times where I've found that design choices can eliminate many programming problems and bottlenecks.
  • The author recommends three projects as having good UI and UX:

    SASS: http://sass-lang.com/ [sass-lang.com]
    Bower: http://bower.io/ [bower.io]
    Ember: http://emberjs.com/ [emberjs.com]

    These projects have two things in common: their websites suck, and I've never heard of them before. (Well, Bower's website is OK).

  • and, in my experience people get used to all kind of shitty or non-shitty icons, but if UX fails in central points (like clearly conveying importan messages to the user or providing fluctuating support for basic features like copy&paste) it frustrates users much more.

  • Tools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Sunday December 20, 2015 @11:07PM (#51156665) Homepage

    The problem is that open source developer tools are suited for source code over all other aspects of projects. This isn't just a problem with UX/UI design, it is also a problem with technical writing for documentation, marketing, user interaction, the whole nine yards.

    Right now, please, tell me the best way to submit a conceptual UI design for an application into a git repository? Do you just create a PSD file and submit it? Then when someone else edits the PSD, how do you diff it? How do you easily track revision changes of visual assets?

    In the closed source world, we have asset management systems that work in parallel with our source code management systems. But this is something that isn't common within the open source world. On top of this, great design is quite possibly much harder than great code. With code, it is easy to run new changes against unit tests to ensure that things do not break. But with layout changes, small or overhauls, how do you test them? They are subject highly to opinion more so than pure fact.

    On top of this, take the general nature of open source projects in general. There are often many hoops to jump through to even push a fix for a confirmed bug after discovering it. Just one example (but this has been par for the course all along), I discovered a simple but critical bug in the MariaDB database server returning incorrect results on a SELECT statement. The test case was extremely simple and verified within an hour or two of the bug report being submitted. A couple weeks went by, no work happened on it. I decided to pull down the MariaDB code, hunt down the bug, fix it, and push the change to their git repo. The entire change was only modifying a single if statement condition. The approval process missed several releases of their software and took months, and countless chats in their IRC channel as well. If this is what it takes to get a single simple bug fixed, just imagine what someone would have to do for a serious change like UI cleanup and overhaul of a major application?

    On top of that, just read the comments throughout here on Slashdot on this article. The main opinion is that UX/UI design is just "change for the sake of change" - which is apparently inherently bad. But take a step back and think about this: We're about to hit the year 2016. When are we finally going to have "The year of Linux on the Desktop?" We've been trying to push that concept for over a decade. But what is preventing it? Absolutely horrible UX/UI design, that is it. Linux itself may have almost every feature of Windows/OSX, but the elegance of being able to access and use those features is absolutely horrible from someone that doesn't already know Linux. Now look at Android, Google took Linux and re-imagined the UI from scratch, and now it is widely used and successful. It is intuitive and easy for novice users. They don't even need to know it is Linux at the core, it shouldn't matter. The interface is sleek, clean, and simple (save for some bastardizations that some of the handset makers and carriers screw up)

    If you want the ultimate test of good vs bad UX/UI design, it is actually quite simple: have people sit down that have absolutely no idea how your program functions. They've never seen it or used it before. And have them attempt to use it with zero supervision. Watch how far they can get. See what all they can do. Look for trends and patterns in their usage. Find where people are getting frustrated, and try to make it simpler. This is what Microsoft did back in the '90s to create the start menu and start button. Check out the history of Windows Chicago: http://oyvind.servehttp.com/wi... [servehttp.com]

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @02:23AM (#51157081) Journal

    Designer: We've designed a new hammer. We've moved beyond the traditional "head and handle" paradigm. Meet: EggHammer. A simple egg-shaped piece of iron that you hold in your hand with a small flat area on one end. No handle. No join to wear out. Simple. Elegant. The egg shape fits in the palm. The flat end hits the nail. Best of all, you can put it on the shelf and it will stand there as an objet d'art resting on the flat surface. $199.00.

    Carpenter: Dafuq? All the force from pounding goes right into my wrist like this. It's like pounding nails with a rock. What the hell are you babbling about? When I'm done with my hammers I hang them on nails I pounded into this board... with a hammer that doesn't suck rocks, which is what you're trying to sell me for TEN TIMES THE PRICE OF A REGULAR HAMMER.

    Designer: you don't understand design.

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to work.

Working...