The most excellent and lamentable tragedy of Flat UI Design, in two acts.

@aras well it's simply a lie to sell it's UI design without compliances #returnmymoney

@aras I think that's more the tragedy of "Microsoft trying to follow trends they don't really understand" rather than "Flat UI design". I mean, every part of that UI design is a mess. It's easy to make scrollbars obvious in a flat design, Microsoft just has no idea what on earth they are trying achieve.

@WAHa_06x36 I think it's not only Microsoft; majority of flat UIs I've seen are terrible. It might be possible to make a good one, but that doesn't happen often.

@aras damn, that's a compelling argument to go back to basics

@aras Yes and no. I think what your really seeing is the evolution of the user. We have trained the users enough they no longer need the strong visual cues as its remained static for so long. As a result we can favour aesthetics. Design is never in a bubble.
Also see controller UX.

@kimau maybe. I still dislike majority of today's flat UIs. I actually often can't tell what can be clicked on, just by looking at it. I can't easily tell which window/control is active, etc.

@aras @kimau ditto for win10's weird mobile slidery checkboxes. In many cases I can't tell whether it's on or off until I click it a few times, because "slider from left to right" doesn't have an immediate off or on state compared to a box that's filled or not filled.

@aras @kimau flat UIs are an accessibility nightmare. if your eyes can't perceive subtle differences in color value, you literally can't even see controls. aesthetic, schmaesthetic, that's just bad design full stop.

@kimau @aras what I find fascinating about that argument is it assumes prior knowledge; yet if this approach was universal, where would that knowledge originate? Only from explicit teaching, which is the antithesis of intuitive design.

@kimau @aras I think it's a clash between touch controls changing expectations and that not quite gelling with more indirect traditional control systems. Humans are hardwired to just fiddle with things and see what happens so touch can get away with less affordance, but that's bled into non-touch UIs too, to mixed effect.

@sinbad @aras Didn't say it was the best design but this is often called "white knowledge" which is assumed to have permeated the user base.
There is a legit counter argument that touch UI has changed UX enough since 2005 that the everyone who uses windows knows what a windows title bar does is no longer white knowledge.
At what point does feedback become noise. The less attention I need to give to global UX the less dense the UX.

@sinbad @aras SnapChat. Perfect example. Mobile UI just assumes that almost instantly the white knowledge of how to use the app spreads in their core demo and therefore they actively remove affordances.

@kimau @aras wasn't the reason for that mostly to capture a young audience who liked the fact that other people didn't know how to use it?

@sinbad @aras Yes black knowledge design was part of it. Though it's a big part of mobile UX. TikTok and asian apps in particular have iterated on mobile UX so much they have settled on conventions most apps don't bother explaining. Where in the past screen darkening, swipe effects or peek cues were common place in mobile UX they are now largely removed for a snappier less dense experience.

@kimau @aras I'm feeling old - I studied UX design in the 90s when affordance was linked to more universal real-world concepts (raised = pressable etc). Now it's several steps removed from the physical on the basis that everyone is already very familiar with what has gone before - although I'm not 100% convinced that's actually true.

@kimau @aras I'm sure it works for the self-selecting groups who are the repeat customers of mobile apps etc. But that's not the same thing.

@sinbad @aras Design fundamentals don't change that much but fashion does and the goals are hyper specific. Windows (the og example) is something most people use 8+ hours in a day. When something is that pervasive the layers of design go super deep. The more familiar something is the more it's play with and few things are as familiar as the "window"

@sinbad @aras @kimau Presumably the terminology is based on whitelist/blacklist but this got me thinking about design as subtle targetting of social control. The behaviors encouraged by a certain design will only be encouraged in groups that can understand the design language. (In some cases this is a blessing: systems that encourage bad habits might be inaccessible to audiences that would be harmed most by them. Can't think of an example of this being the case though.)

@sinbad @kimau @aras Agreed that this is the current wisdom. But it’s undercut by the way UX fashions change over time.

@kimau @aras no we haven't trained users enough. I hate that mentality. I started using android last year and it still pains me to understand a bunch of ui concepts. Is crazy and not intuitive at all. Worse, causes a sense of internal chaos and paralysis cuz I have no idea what is safe to touch or not. I can't even imagine trying to make my mother for example use a modern windows or android, I'd probably would cry from how frustrating it would be.

@aras So very true.

I once developed a Windows Mobile Embedded scanner application. When my boss looked at it, he told me that it was ugly, and should be made more modern. So i spent a lot of hours hacking the UI. Eventually, all the buttons were bordered labels, and it was smacked unto a back ground. Bossman was happy, but the customers were confused

"Why did you make it less obvious whats what?" they asked.


@johannesg @aras glorioua. The peak of ui and ux design. Undeniable.

@johannesg @aras Windows 3.1x or bust! (I've applied the color and font changes to my i3 and terminal, for entertainment. I had the Gtk theme for a while, too, but I rolled that back for now due to random breakages. CSS in Gtk3 themes is "really" "good" idea.)

@aras Windows 21: "We removed the scroll bar because it felt archeoc. Now you can just scroll with your finger"

@jonquan @aras Is OS X 10.7 actually Windows 21 in disguise? 🤔
@aras I'm a fan of pre-iOS 7 look on iPad. The feeling is astoundingly positive when I power on the first-gen iPad 1, which is "stuck" on iOS 5.x.

@aras I had to stare at this for a minute to see the problem because my brain is so used to those scrollbars, haha.

I think the way macOS represents flat scrollbars is probably the way to go; the ends are round to differentiate them from the background. But then Apple had to go and hide the scrollbars completely by default, undoing the slightly better UX in favor of minimalism.

@aras I think Numix is a good representation of what any Flat UI should be. 🤔

@aras It *is* obvious from the context. The scroll bar changes color when you hover it and considering you know where in the text you are, you also know where the scrollbar is.

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