The Design of Software (CLOSED)

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Ugly is the New Beautiful

So, based on Joel's endorsement, I signed up for an AirSet account earlier today.

I've tinkered around with it, and they seem to have a pretty mature product, with great features.

But holy shit, the interface is ridiculously ugly. They need to hire some graphic designers. People who understand that great form is the facilitator of great functionality.

Lately, though, I wonder if software developers take pride in avoiding graphic design (because they think Google's minimalism is the same thing as lack-of-graphic-design-expertise). When their product ends up being painful on the eyes, they think their focus on functionalilty over form is some sort of accomplishment.

My specific critiques of the AirSet interface:

* Their user interface uses too many different colors. Including all the colors on my calendar and on the site's icons, I'm looking at nine different colors right now. It's too busy.

* They use transparent GIFs for their side-bar icons so that they can overlay the icons on top of a gradient background. But the icons have drop-shadows, and GIF transparency doesn't support alpha channels. So the drop shadows are solid black, and the edges are all chunky looking. Very amateurish.

* On my monitor (1280 x 1024 resolution), when I maximize the page, the calendar boxes are about 2.5 times as wide as they are tall. It just doesn't look like a proper calendar with those proportions

* The day and week views should be laid out like pages in an appointment book, with gridlines for the hours of the day. Especially for the week view, a dayplanner type of layout really helps visualize your schedule when you're trying to fing blocks of freetime.

* Their calendar doesn't show conflicts. If I have two events in my schedule that overlap, they appear on the calendar as though they were in sequence. They should appear side-by-side, more obviously in conflict with one another.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
"I wonder if software developers take pride in avoiding graphic design (because they think Google's minimalism is the same thing as lack-of-graphic-design-expertise)"

It's a possibility. Luckily, not all think that way: -- simple yet beautiful.
Berislav Lopac Send private email
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Exactly, Berislav. That's a very nice looking issue tracker. Very clean. Very modern. Simple in its color scheme and its page layout.

And it's not "flashy" or "artsy" or any of the other words that software developers use to describe applications where form trumps function.

But, nevertheless, even in its simplicity, that kind of elegance is not easy to acheive.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Saturday, February 11, 2006

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