Microsoft’s recently released Windows 8 brought one of the most drastic changes to user interface design that many of us have ever seen. Doing away (for the most part) with traditional UI elements, Windows 8 emphasizes text and colors in a “natively digital” way that’s unique, at the very least. It’s exciting to see Microsoft try something totally new, and fun to see developers making new PC apps again.
Interestingly, the Windows 8 design (formerly known as Metro, now referred to as Modern UI or Windows 8 UI by Microsoft) has already started influencing web apps. It wasn’t surprising to see Microsoft’s own Outlook.com and Skydrive sport the new UI design. What is surprising is how many new web apps we’ve come across with Windows 8-inspired designs, including the PDF editor PDFZen and Fotor, a simple photo editing app. The Metro design translates well to the web, and with so many PC users making the switch to Windows 8, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more apps sporting similar designs.
Problem is, everyone doesn’t like the Windows 8 design. What’s your opinion of Windows 8′s design, and are you looking forward to seeing more apps sport the clean font+color only design?
The past couple decades of computing have seen an explosion in apps on all platforms. VisiCalc might have been the killer app on early PCs, but development didn’t start there. Today, many of the apps we use on a daily basis didn’t even exist several years ago. For that matter, the platform we’re running them on may have not even existed more than a few years. Whether you’re using web apps that are powered by HTML5 or native apps that sync with Dropbox, these have only been even possible for a few years now.
Through decades of development and increasingly fast and portable computers, developers have rushed to add features to their apps, often seemingly just for the sake of adding features. Then, as new platforms came along, critics dismissed early apps on them as being too basic to get real work done. Surprisingly, though, it’s usually the simplest apps that we use the most, and few people are fanatical about complicated programs with confusing, outdated interfaces.
What makes the difference between a bloated app and something you’d love to use? There’s a fine line between enough features and too many, so let’s take a look at some examples and see why most of us gravitate to some of the simplest apps available.
I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I love the concept and use the service multiple times a day. I hate the fact that the core web app is so feature deficient. Compared to the hole filling third party Twitter apps and clients, Twitter on the web is pretty depressing. I use Twitter for consuming news, communicating with people and watching trends 24×7 using various iPhone apps, Hootsuite and up until this review I’ve not bothered to login to the web app.
Without third party apps, Twitter could not have become the phenomenon it is today. The usually nonchalant Twitter team finally rolled out a bunch changes to the bland web app last week amidst much hype. So is the new Twitter going to bring users back to the web app?
The short is answer is “No.” To know why, follow me after the fold.