UI complexity

Here’s a lesson on UI complexity to be learned. While reading Rick’s blog, I came across a link to the early 1984 Apple Macintosh introduction.
Check out this screenshot of MacPaint. It’s interesting to see that MacPaint was featuring 6 menus. Six. Two of them are File and Edit. Now take a look at the remaining four menus. Three of them are concerned with Text properties: Font, FontSize and Style. This leaves one menu called Aids for additional functionality. Take a look at the palettes. That’s it. Nothing more. Null. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Users have been able to grasp the concept of MacPaint easily. And created pretty elaborate drawings with it. Now compare this UI with you favorite drawing application today. Do you see the difference? Do you see why the vast majority of users have trouble using today’s applications? And even if they’re able to accomplish a task, they most likely fail to take advantage of the applications feature set?
Better yet, check out this screenshot of the early Finder. Now open up a window on your Windows XP or MacOS X desktop. Do you see the difference? Talk about screen clutter. Talk about the user not seeing the forest for the trees.
BTW, if you’re into Microsoft Word (for Mac), make sure to read Rick’s blog. Great stuff.

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