We just finished watching John Gruber’s fascinating chat about The Gap Theory of UI Design. The talk highlights the evolution of the visual design of Mac OS X from System 1 to System 2, all the way up to Mac OS X.
There are lots of great bits of food for thought in the talk, but one that hit us was how Apple has really changed it’s position on interface design over the years. It’s hard to believe that in 12 years, Apple literally changed nothing about how Notepad works. Certainly, some things are tried and true classics, but it’s hilarious to think that Twitter (or Tweetie) for the Mac years ago would have resulted in Twitter being shunned from WWDC. The idea that all apps have to be visually consistent has been dead for some time, and although many apps still utilize similar functionality (such as position of maximize, minimize, scrollbar etc.) they take visual liberties in how they implement these actions.
Consistency isn’t dead. What’s dead is uniformity. ~ John Gruber
Towards the end of the video, Gruber goes on to talk specifically about how The HIG (human interface guideline published by Apple) has become less of a Bible (as it was in the 90′s and early 2000′s), and more of a general guideline for designers and developers.
One of the biggest things we pulled from this talk was the importance of providing guidelines for interface design, without becoming overly structured in the approach to the point where the guidebook literally hampers creativity.
If you’ve got 40 minutes, it’s well worth watching.
You can watch the video on Vimeo. Unfortunately, it can’t be embedded.