20 years doing something doesn't make you an expert... July 10, 2008


A few days ago, Macworld posted an article about the User Interface Design of a forthcoming third party iPhone App. Mighty Gruber posted it on Flickr, and the comments went wild.
Let’s say it, I think the design is pretty bad. Let’s say something else: some comments on the Flickr thread are plain wrong (a few are pretty funny though).
Steve Patt, the designer, posted a well deserved response (several actually).
Then, Ryan Singer from 37signals posted an article, seizing the opportunity to give a design course. He also links to Patt’s response, and as Ryan seems to be a well educated and nice person, he doesn’t judge Patt too hardly.
Comments on svn.37signals were more serious than the ones on Flickr, even if some, I think, misunderstood Ryan’s intention: He’s not defending the UI; he’s just forgiving the designer.
In the comments, I began posting a response to Patt’s.
(Responding to a comment on another’s site comments… Ain’t that Web 3.0 !?)
While I was doing it, I got more and more angry. I really think the UI is crap, and having someone defending and justifying it like that… makes me angry.
So, as nobody took the time to do it (at that time - a few did the same just after in SVN comments), I decided to do a mock up of something just a little less ugly.
Here is my take to it.
As I said in my comment, I’m not a UI designer, I never used the Apple SDK until then, it took me 1 hour, including the 1.25 Go download of the SDK. I only tried to mimic Patt’s screen.
As a user, I still think it’s a crappy UI, the whole app should be rethought to really make it better; but it’s still way better than the original and it’s more compliant with Apple HIG.

So, to wrap up, Patt’s UI is really ugly and not easy to the eyes, and probably not to the finger.
He shouldn’t defend it too hard, especially arguing 20 years of designing apps. Designing Palm UI for 10 years doesn’t make you an expert at designing iPhone app.
This is just the first example of many to come, and the reason Apple is locking the App Store and filtering the content.
[update]: App Store is up, and apparently, Apple is not filtering that much…]

PS: this earned me a link on Gruber’s Daring Fireball. Yay!