Design of OSes and webpages from 2010-present have been bugging me for quite a while. I have intentionally been avoiding upgrading from Windows 7 and prefer to browse websites with appealing pc-friendly designs ever since. It seems like desktop operating systems are now designed without desktops in mind, and websites are designed on desktops without desktops in mind in well.
I’m gonna try to make a case for why this sucks balls, from a long term power user perspective.
My local news station recently upgraded to a new ‘modern’ web design centered around mobile devices. While the decluttering may have helped, it is now devoid of color and interesting detail. The rest of the site has tons of blank space and bizarre font sizing. Which is more visually appealing to you?
I’ve seen a few articles on Medium.com and they appear to suffer this issue as well, and this screenshot from my 1920 x 1080 computer monitor illustrates it quite well. This site is a chore of vertical scrolling to read as a result. This site is geared for writing and reading with little distractions, which is a novel concept.. but can’t we use more than a third of the user’s screen here? perhaps, we could use a 2 page layout, like a book or magazine, which are time-tested ways of reading things?
WordPress’s 2014 default theme really kicked off the type of design that medium.com uses. Look at the wasted vertical screen space. On something like an iphone, this looks a little less reprehensible, but still does require constant scrolling because the content is very squished vertically. Is every web browser an iphone though? i don’t think so.. according to statcounter,com, in 2014, 64% of devices browsing the web were desktop PCs.
WordPress’ 2015 design is even worse and contains more gaping holes where no interesting information can be found. A lot of blogs use wordpress, so this style has ended up becoming standard for most blogs. This is really designed for mobile only, despite the fact that desktop computers are still 60% of browsing traffic, as of June 2015. They have also taken a tip from Microsoft’s Windows 10 and 8 operating systems and made the template and icons completely devoid of color.
We see the transition from left-brained to right-brained design here when comparing Windows 7 and Windows 8. This is an extremely harsh transition, and i find it to be a rather ugly one. They haven’t gone full minimalist just yet though – you see that there are at least gradients on the special-needs sized click areas for starting applications.
In Windows 10, they have gone even more minimalistic, and tried to balance the special-needs interface with some demands of right-brainers by bringing back the start menu, which is now much less of a spaz-button interface. But overall, it looks like the remnanys of an operating system that has had the life sucked out of it. Tons of black text on white backgrounds. How creative and groundbreaking is that?
In my opinion, Windows 10 looks like a less colorful version of Windows 2.0, circa 1987. Except, the icons in Windows 2.0 are more detailed and the operating system has more color to it.
Even Windows 3.0 made decent use of the graphic hardware it was designed for ( 16 colors, 640×480 ). The colors are a little gaudy, but hey, it was the 90’s..
What is with this trend of seeing that most users have 16.8 million color displays at sizes between 1074 x 768 all the way up to 4096 x 2160.. and designing sites and operating systems around 16 colors and what looks like 640 x 480?
Dear modern designers – your minimalism is a practice in laziness. It brings no joy to anyone’s eyes and is only useful in contrast to excessive, cluttered design – and only when it is done correctly. Huge swaths of blank space are not helpful on a constrained mobile screen either.
There is a middle ground between hyper minimalism and the visual equivalent of a Dr. Bronner’s magic soap bottle, or this page above. I suggest you go looking for it!
Mobile is second class. PC is first class.. embrace the PC master race! stop designing for the lowest common denominator and seek greatness!