It seems as if I’m the only person having issues with Lion–it’s like I am trapped in Brain Candy and I’m the only one not taking the happy pill. I’ve been a Mac user for a long time, and every new upgrade brought butterflies to my stomach. This time around I was so excited I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but the excitement wore off quite quickly. Since then I have turned into a ranting bitch.
Having blocked the majority of my day for “design work”, I got onto installing and exploring Lion as soon as it was released. “Whooooaaah, look at that transition” became “are you kidding me?” quite quickly. It’s like someone went PowerPoint happy on Lion. See, after spending the last few years working on software most people don’t like, I‘m quite anal about what good design is and how it should work in people’s lives. Apple has always been my ultimate “cool cousin”, but suddenly I am experiencing features that don’t make my life easier and get in the way. For example:
My first reaction to Mail was WTF–it seems like Apple butchered their Mail designer and had only engineers responsible for the functionality. It does work (sometimes) and it has more features than anyone would want, but they don’t necessarily go together. And most basic functions are clicks away. I am not a click counter, but I do believe people shouldn’t think about the software they are using. And that’s all I have been doing with the new Mail. How dare you, Apple.
Next check is iCal. I’ve used it because it’s simple and it only has what I need. For years now I told people to shush when they still have three duplicates of an invite I canceled multiple times. Ah, it’s always been the price I (and they) pay for simplicity. But I was still anxious to check. After all that waiting, iCal has a revert button! Oh, my, goodness. It doesn’t always work, but I have only had to send one update I didn’t want to so far.
I think my biggest pet peeve is Spotlight. People do conform to bad design choices, including me, but this one keeps coming back to haunt me. I can’t find anything in Spotlight, a.k.a “my best friend”. The previous functionality is still there and they build the new stuff onto it. How do I know? Because the files I want always blink up on top when I get a search return (but too quickly, so that I can’t click on it), before it’s crushed down by the information architecture Apple has imposed on Lion. Crazy IA and some cool frou-frou functionality get in the way of getting work done.
Another big one for me is the “pinch” on Finder and Desktop. I’m a multidisciplinary designer, and I deal with lots of files, which I tend to dump onto my desktop and eventually drag somewhere. The way I make sense of my mess is by knowing the time around which I got a file, and what the file looked like. Workflow has always been: search for file extent or name, or go to desktop or folder. Pinch to Zoom. Find. I can’t do that now. Neither can I organize by Modified Date.
This is the first time I need to revise how I do things because the software doesn’t get how I do it. I don’t think it’s fair. Some might say I’m a spoiled brat. Don’t care. I say I just avoid bad design altogether. Design needs to work for people and not the other way around. Am I the only one missing the Desktop and Finder’s “pinch”? Am I the only one not in heaven with the new Lion? Is the raving coming from people that use Mac for leisure, or they are new to it, so they just don’t know any better?
This is a guest post by a designer, who asked to remain anonymous. The designer is running 200 miles an hour designing the best digital experiences; leading function and form for an enterprise software based in Washington, DC. Striving everyday to make magical products and experiences.