[Arcana] Being clear about this.

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Sat Jul 28 23:02:17 CDT 2012

Since I've been ranting right and left and breaking the china, let me
make something clear:

There is definitely such a thing as a good UI designer, and I believe
those people know many important things that I (we) don't know.

It's just that the correlation between people calling themselves "UI
designers" and actually having that competence is not nearly as strong
as one would hope.

Jim, you might be used to Mozilla's designers, who as far as I can tell
are terrific.  Firefox's UI is very well done, IMHO.  There's nothing it
does where I feel that a tradeoff decision was made unintentionally --
maybe it doesn't do exactly what I'd want it to do for my own use, but
the choice they made always seems reasonable and defensible.

But I encounter lots of self-designated UI designers who are really
about *aesthetic* visual design.  They talk a lot about font choice,
about "clean" lines and spaces, and stuff like that.  I rarely hear them
talking about the long-term kinesthetic experience of using the
interface.  They're really concerned with visual appeal in a primarily
aesthetic way -- except they don't realize this.

As an analogy, consider architects who design handsome, flashy exteriors
that look terrific in the big, glossy architectural magazines, but from
whom the experience of actually inhabiting the building on an extended
basis does not receive proper consideration.


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