It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who has a problem with Mac design going to from colorful and friendly to cold and boring.
“I’ve spent the day eyeing Leopard warily from my chair and web-surfing for skins, icons, and suchlike. There’s a *whole* lotta grey goin’ on there, and I’m trying my designer-y best to neutralize its depressing effects by altering what I can in the options allowed, but I cannot help but wail and gnash my teeth and remember the good old days of Kaleidoscope.”
“Now it seems to be all about conformity. What happened? Toolbars? Any color you want as long as it’s dark grey with a really dark grey but not quite black tiny little font (Hello? Readability? Not. And don’t get me started on the light grey on white documentation and website.)”
“I mean, c’mon… flat grey folders? Screaming blue menu highlights? What happened to that happy, glossy, candy-colored interface that made things look happy and fun instead of like the inside of a cube farm asylum?”
Tja. I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. I actually loved the looks of OS X when it first came out. This was in the time of the original iMac and iBook, which came in a variety of colors, and were curvy rather than blocky… very different from the beige boxes that were all too common back then. The design of OS X mirrored that: colorful blobs of goo for buttons and scrollbars, translucency, pinstripes…
Then at some point they [*] decided that everything had to be be flat, grey (or maybe black or white in the case of laptop cases), minimalistic, and (IMHO) boring. Maybe in an attempt to look more “professional”, I don’t know. Some people I spoke to seem to equate professional with unexciting and colorless, so yeah. (One exception is the iPod Nano which, in the latest wave, comes in a number of bright colors. Maybe because an iPod doesn’t need to look “professional”… :-)
Unfortunately new releases of OS X mimicked the hardware as well, and it shows. Apparently even the little apple and Spotlight icon in the menu bar had to get the black-and-white treatment.
Whaddya think? What is the reason that Apple design ideas have changed so much? And will they change back someday?
[*] Assuming that designer Jonathan Ive was responsible for both the iMac/iBook design and the current flat/metallic design, maybe there’s hope that Apple will get a taste again for non-boring designs someday.