Everyone knows that I like working with Apple products. Much as I love Apple products, and I find myself at my most productive on them, there are of course times when various features in UI design seem to have … failed … somewhat, and those little failures sometimes drive me nuts.
Take for instance, Finder’s schizoid approach to presenting my iDisk account. My Mobile Me account name is “prestondeguise”, and on my Desktop, my drives are presented as follows:
That’s logical – it’s got a (urgh) cloud icon; it names the disk after my account, and all is well. However, every time I go and open a new Finder window with the purpose of going into this storage area, I suffer a momentary glitch where I can’t find it. The reason, of course, is simple:
Can you spot the “prestondeguise” volume there? No, you can’t, because Finder calls it the “iDisk” volume instead. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and it catches me every time. Sure, I may pause only 10 seconds or less, but I shouldn’t have to pause.
There are three key things that interfaces need to get right:
- Functionality (it must work)
- Elegance (i.e., it mustn’t be ugly, yet shouldn’t be tarted up to the point of obscuring functionality)
- Consistency (it must present the same information the same way wherever possible)
While some would argue that Finder is a classic example of something that’s only barely functional, I don’t see it as being quite that bad. It does remain largely elegant, simply because it’s to the point and doesn’t unnecessarily clutter. Consistency though is where it fails when it comes to Mobile Me accounts – to present effectively the same “volume” under two different names is poor UI design.
It’s not often I call Apple on poor UI design, but this is definitely one of those times.