Razing the Stakes

March 21st, 2011

Ubuntu cheerleading blog OMG! Ubuntu asks the question, “Has the new Ubuntu One Control Panel raised the stakes in app appearances?” Well, let’s see:

Actually, there is a lot that is objectively wrong with this design.

  • What is dictating the horizontal alignment of the “Show me my Ubuntu One folder” button?
  • What is dictating the horizontal alignment of the “File Sync is up-to-date.” message?
  • Why are the “File Sync is up-to-date” message and “Disconnect” “link” not vertically aligned?
  • Why is there inconsistent punctuation at the end of different messages in the window? (Some end in periods, some don’t.)
  • Why is the “Install now” button so divorced from its explanatory text?
  • Why is the button text for “Official Support” and “Community Support” vertically misaligned with the “Talk to us on:” text?
  • Why are there four different styles for clickable items? — a standard button; a “hyperlink” (does “Disconnect” send me to the web?); a button with a hyperlink (how redundant is that?); and social media icon buttons (is it clear that those really are clickable?)
  • And, finally, what is the precedent for the new “buttons-as-tabs” interaction here? Other than Mac OS X?

I’ve probably even missed a few things.

In the future, can we please carefully focus a critical eye on designs like these before we declare that they are setting some kind of new bar? My gut is telling me that any positive reaction to this is due to the OS X-evoking buttons-as-tabs.

Update: There is a bug filed against “buttons-as-tabs”; please click “This bug affects me” if you’d like to see them eliminated.