Two of the early Mac user-interface designers argue in a lengthy FastCo piece that Apple has abandoned many of its original human interface design principles in both OS X and iOS, and a switch to an alphabetic rather than hierarchical list seemingly puts aesthetics above all else.

Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini say that five of “the most important principles” are now “largely or completely missing in iOS”:

  • discoverability – having all possible actions be visible
  • feedback & feedforward – making it obvious what a function will do, and what it has done
  • recovery – the ability to undo a mistake, or get back to where you were before
  • consistency – using the same gestures across platforms and hardware
  • encouraging growth – helping people tackle more complex tasks when they’ve mastered the basics

Norman and Tognazzini also say that Apple violates many of Dieter Rams’ design principles, a German designer who Steve Jobs has said greatly influenced his own thinking. They say that Apple prioritizes Rams’ 10th principle – “good design is as little design as possible” – over the other nine.

I’d note that iOS 9 tackles one of their criticisms, offering an easy ‘Back to’ function when a link has taken you out of the app you were using, but it’s an interesting read.

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