In my previous post I discussed what was admirable about Steve Jobs as a designer, and ITM includes many examples of innovative design from Apple. But the Apple emphasis on minimalism could also get in the way of good design, so it is sometimes useful for offering good examples of bad design.
In the digital medium, the agency of the interactor is the most important design goal, one that should trump all visual or computational considerations. When the adorably round iMac conceals the surface of the on/off button so artfully that a new user is unable to find it, or the delightfully thin Macbook Air laptop provides only 1 USB port (which also serves as a non-standard video output) then an obsession with sleekness has trumped agency.
The Onion News Network satirized Apple’s misplaced minimalist design aesthetic, and the ways in which consumers can be distracted by novelty and style in this classic clip which should be a staple of design education everywhere:
Another example of excessive minimalism is Mozilla Firefox. The single icon menu is terrible. Luckily we can revert it to the usual File / Edit / View menu, where most options are two or three clicks away. Also they removed colours from the Back, Reload and Download icons, so now you have to look carefully at the shape of the icon rather than relying on giving a quick glance of a blue, red and green spot.
I was on your speech at the ORT University in Montevideo, Uruguay. Good luck with this blog!