Niko Kitsakis (via Michael Tsai’s blog):
People called good Macintosh software “Mac-like” because that’s what it felt like. If an application did not adhere to those seemingly unwritten rules, you would develop an itch in the back of your head. Something was off.
This “Mac-like” feeling was at the core of the classic Mac OS era. It’s what gave the Mac its legendary status and its place in history. And while the first versions of OS X broke with some conventions, things became better as OS X progressed. That is to say, until 10.7 came out and started a trend of questionable design decisions that has been continuing ever since.
This is a short-but-sweet post that lays out a specific example of the power of a properly constructed interface. The oldest “Save changes” dialog asked a question, but populated the response buttons with Yes, No, and Cancel. A look at the button only was not helpful.
This evolved into the use of verbs in response buttons, with Save, Don’t save, and Cancel.
The Mac design language was so powerful, and so widely adopted, that any app that did not follow the rules stood out like a sore thumb. Mac applications were instantly recognizable, and apps from outsiders tended to look ugly, in comparison, as those outsiders did not know the rules to follow.
Does the modern macOS and iOS app universe still hew to a common standard? Are Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines lost in the incredible complexity of application creation? Are we better off with fewer rules and less oversight on the things we create? Or might the pendulum swing back, with apps that are recognized as following the iOS and macOS HIGs?