Closed Bug 29103 Opened 22 years ago Closed 21 years ago
Default interface looks very "flat" [modern skin]
I gathered comments from several contributors, some of them key developers: Default interface looks very "flat" due to lack of 3D-ness which has become popular with many OSs The 2-D look is not very appealing, and is very confusing. It looks like a web page. The idea of this product was enhance web sites to look more 3d-ish. Not make the chrome more 2d-ish like an existing web site. sigh. (dimensionality cues: drop shadow on scroll bars, esp thumb). The lack of drop shadow and other dimensionality cues in the scroll bar makes the thumb indistinguishable as the foreground element. It actually looks as if the trough background is the foreground given the color choices. Neither the Windows nor Mac platform scroll bar has this problem. Note: This bug report may turn out to be merely a tracking bug for dependent bugs filed against specific issues.
The idea of this product has never been to 'enhance web sites to look more 3d- ish.' I was at Apple 1992-1993. One of the reasons for doing platinum at the time seemed to be 'because we can' namely as graphic capabilities and processing power advanced people flocked to using 3-D, another reason was that Windows 3.x had it and so it seemed they had to catch up to what was perceived a competitive advantage. Part of the reason seemed to be also to show off the OS as a product in its own right, as Apple started to sell the formerly free OS to its customers. At that time we thought the possibilities were fascinating. One fundamental problem with this approach is that applying a 3-D look in itself does not make it a more usable product. 3-D is often applied in 'supernatural' ways and where it is not needed. In fact you have to read through a lot more clutter (bevels, groove lines) just to get at the basic information. That's precisely the reason why over time commerical application started to remove the 3-D appearance in a non-hover state. Furthermore there is such a thing as too much 3-D. When you look at things like Office95 you notice that in a world of gratioutous 3-D bevels, edges and ridges 3-D does not stand out anymore. It essentially looses it's 'built in' affordance. The other reason that over time content has become more exciting, colorful and rich over time, and so we felt that chrome had to get away from this -in your face- mode. And then lastly, and this is from a non-scientific graphic design perspective: the 3-D look and feel is tired and outdated rather than new or wired, it is very 80s and beginning 90s. Don't look at where today's OS are, take a peek at what's coming. Just ask your favorite graphic designers or browse in magazines like ID, graphis or AXIS. Observe the new designs that had been prototyped at Microsoft (neptune)or at other places : they are going away from photorealistic 3-D depictions and towards simple, clean and symbolic graphics. As designers for consumer products we have to take all of these factors into careful consideration. I think that skins will give us the option to satisfy various tastes. Ben is hammering out a 4.x skin, and Netscape will likely ship more than one skin when the product goes final. Also as we will approach beta we will all keep a careful eye on all usability aspects of widgets, on user feedback related to using these widgets and of course will change/improve them as we go along. From the user testing with consumers so far this has not been something to end users at all that they noticed in particular. None of the end-users we have been with had a problem with the affordance or saliency of scrollbars. The data we have does not support your notion of this being a problem.
Summary: Default interface looks very "flat" → Default interface looks very "flat"
Users in usability tests may not have *noticed* any difference with the flat UI. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if the average time they take to click a button, or to scroll a scroll bar, is longer (even by only 0.1~0.2 seconds) with the current skin than with a more 3-D one, because of the extra effort required to find the widgets on the screen.
Depends on: 17639
QA Assigning non-confidential New/Assigned User Interface: Design Feedback bugs to Matthew Thomas (email@example.com). Matthew Thomas is now the QA owner for the User Interface: Design Feedback component. (Bugs that involve UI issues in the Netscape-branded Mozilla browser should continue be QA assigned to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
QA Contact: elig → mpt
A more detailed response (for what it's worth) ... * The 3-D Platinum Appearance in MacOS was not done just `because we can' or for marketing purposes. From <http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.14/14.01/ Appearance-savvyApps/>: | | The new appearance shows more distinction between active elements and | inactive ones: "One of the design goals of the grayscale appearance was to | give better definition for active and inactive states. Active objects are | beveled and 'pushable' whereas inactive objects are flat, and blend in with | the background." [-Arlo Rose, on the Apple HI Developers mailing list] And from the same page: | | Rather than a square placard with a subtle shadow and a simple black | down-arrow, popup menus now look more like buttons. I like this because it | tells the user "push me" rather than "look at me". So yes, applying a 3-D appearance in appropriate places *does* make a more usable interface. * Commercial applications (such as Office 97 and Communicator 4.x) did not begin to remove their 3-D elements in order to make it easier `to get at the basic information'. They did it because they had too many controls on the screen at once in the first place. * Yes, there is such a thing as too much 3-D. But we're not asking for too much, we're asking for enough. * A 3-D look is not `very 80s and beginning 90s'. 3-D apppearances were introduced as standard on Windows in 1995, and on Macintosh in (IIRC) 1997. It is 2-D interfaces (such as those used in the Netcenter skin) which are very '80s and beginning '90s. * We're not asking for `photorealistic 3-D depictions', we're asking for useful 3-D affordances which make controls easier to see. Now that XPToolkit controls have been made more three-dimensional, the only thing really required to resolve this bug in particular would be bevelled borders for the toolbar buttons, the status bar, the taskbar, and grippies. * Mozilla is skinnable. That's very nice, but it's largely irrelevant. It's largely irrelevant because the majority of users (the majority of Netscape users, at least) will be either incapable of changing their Mozilla skin, or will see the current skin and not even bother to go so far as investigate alternative skins. The *default* skin for the *majority* of Mozilla users (i.e., the default Netscape skin), in my view, should not throw years of careful development of 3-D affordances out the window just to follow an ephemeral design trend.
Depends on: 20059
- I was at Apple at the time Platinum (then Truth) was conceived and while Arlo Rose has good reasons for why he thinks its more usable the driving marketing reason from what I have seenand experienced was because windows had a non-black and white appearance since 3.x and started to be perceived by customers as more attractive. - "with regards to the only thing really required to resolve this bug in particular would be bevelled borders for the toolbar buttons, the status bar, the taskbar, and grippies." I would have to disagree, just adding bevels globally like this does not much to enhance usability, it just adds visual complexity by indifferently sprinkling 3-D borders and bevels around, without giving users a way to tell that yes this is clickable, but its not important for your current task at hand, and it doesn't require your attention right now. See the problem with 3-D 'always on' is that the added visuals have to be processed even though the controls might not help you with the task at hand. I also don't believe that themes are not accessible. First of all those who care (and as said earlier to my surprise many common users just don't seem to) are among those 40-50% who we expect will be able to change their theme. Just by virtue of being able to turn it on after a theme has been downloaded and in conjunction with the fanfare that will be generated around appearances I think this will be more than visible. That said I agree that whatever will be the default theme has to have a high level of usability, because that will be what the Netscape customer will use first when approaching our product.
Target Milestone: --- → M20
This particular skin will be called "Modern Skin" for people who prefer 2-D graphic design. Bugs are filed to address some minor usability issues that might associated with this particular look. Additional skin(s) will have variety of looks in the future.
Status: NEW → RESOLVED
Closed: 22 years ago
Resolution: --- → INVALID
Sorry, I can't verify this as invalid and keep a clear conscience -- unless the current skin is an alternative (rather than the default) for any major Mozilla-based release. I don't think it's acceptable for skin-switching, no matter how well publicized, to be a compulsory part of the Mozilla setup process for anyone who simply wants to know, at a glance, what is clickable and what is not. Giving QA to Claudius instead.
QA Contact: mpt → claudius
I have to agree with matthew and trudelle on this one. The only thing separating the top toolbars from the page is a thing line. The status bar doesn't even have this advantage, and I can easily see it blending in nicely to a page with a gray background.
I marking this bug VERIFIED. I believe its usefullness has expired and it is more suited for a newsgroup discussion.
Status: RESOLVED → VERIFIED
ooops, clicked too soon. i didn't notice the dependencies. In that case this really is a meta bug and should stay open. It is incorrect to mark this bug invalid.
Status: VERIFIED → REOPENED
Resolution: INVALID → ---
adding modern skin to summary to make clear this only applies to that skin. Modern will receive some updates starting after beta 2 to improve form and function.
Status: REOPENED → ASSIGNED
Summary: Default interface looks very "flat" → Default interface looks very "flat" [modern skin]
Adding myself to the cc list. I agree with the proponents of a little amount of emboss on the elements to convey the "push me" vs "look at me" (BTW, that's a nice way to put it...) My main problem with modern [blue,new] has been that it is way too flat (like on a touch screen gadget). This really starts to make a significant difference when using the application over a number of days. I cannot build right now, but from some partial screenshots that I have seen (e.g., http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/showattachment.cgi?attach_id=14876), some elements are getting embossed which is a step in the right direction.
Got a build now. FWIW, some follow-up comments: sidebar panels look much nicer; separator between sidebar and content window too wide (it seems to convey a non-smooth sensation); too much emboss on the scrollbar (making it somewhat invasive); a hint of an emboss on the various spheric buttons (e.g., for Next, Forward, etc.) would be appreciated.
Marking fixed, as much new designs has been added to modern, that no longer looks 'flat', if this ever was a valid bug :-)
Status: ASSIGNED → RESOLVED
Closed: 22 years ago → 21 years ago
Resolution: --- → FIXED
marking VERIFIED Fixed
Status: RESOLVED → VERIFIED
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