The need for consistency in UIs

Two interesting discussions of user interface issues in recent or soon-to-be-released Microsoft products. Alan Lepofsky has written about some aspects of the Outlook 2007 user experience. Paul Thurrott has a great discussion of the horror that innocent users may face when Windows Vista is released. Things like, having the Back button in wizards at the opposite corner of the window from the Next button, and having it use an arrow icon while the other buttons are text. Joy.

In my view, one thing that GNOME got right with the 2.x releases has been an obsession with the Human Interface Guidelines. The HIG may not always be great; some argue that GNOME is too dumbed-down; and the HIG provides guidelines rather than rules. However, considering the way in which OSS is developed, there was a lot of potential for wildly differing UIs between applications, and yet GNOME has largely avoided this. Shame that Microsoft (one company, rather than a loose collection of programmers) couldn’t do the same!

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