So when Microsoft starting coming out with their new skin for everything, you know the one that doesn’t have the File…Edit…View menu. I said it was irritating and I didn’t like it. Somehow I felt like I had lost the things I needed to get around and actually Use the applications. When ever I am in Windows I use Chrome as my default browser and am still really impressed with it. My only complaint is that I can’t have it in Linux. Last night and this morning I was tinkering with Firefox trying to get closer to the huge viewable space that Chrome gives you. Only see status bar info when there is something to see, remove the title bar, because it’s a waste of space and make things as clean as possible. These are great things. I couldn’t make Firefox do what I wanted, but I did find a chrome theme that cleans up the UI a little bit. So I hated it when Microsoft did it and loved it when Google did it. Why?

  • Could it be because Microsoft removed it from their apps, where chrome was something completely new?
  • Was it the way in which the UI was constructed to make the tools of old easier to access though I have heard complaints about chromes lack of options….
  • Is the/my stigma towards Microsoft really that bad?
  • Do Google’s UI team get paid an unfathomable amount of money to make things so intuitive?

At work right now we are working on the UI for our map. It’s been really interesting getting peoples reactions to something that really requires interaction. It seems a lot of folks, technical and non-technical alike, are hesitant to just start clicking and tinkering. Are there good ways, and helper text is not one of them, to encourage users to really Use something. I think visual cues are extremely important and if it’s designed right people will notice and understand the functionality with out being told via text or prompts. Those visual cues are where it’s at, but being subtle enough as to not distract them and blunt enough not to confuse them is a tricky balance. The map lives at map.umt.edu. Give it a look, and give us your feedback.