When it comes to solid UI development and design it is important to learn from the successes – and the failures – of others. Here are five epic UI fails and the reasons why they didn’t succeed.
- Google’s OS X (2005)
While Google has successfully ventured into the worlds of online storage, web tools, and the app market (not to mention ownership of a plethora of other online conquests), back in 2005, they flopped with the online OS X. Why did it fail? For starters, it suffered from a tacky overall look, confusing navigation, and ill-designed graphic icons that looked more like decorative afterthoughts than clickable buttons.
- Google Wave (2009)
Four years after the Google OS X experiment, they launched an online product called Google Wave. While the idea behind this collaborative media collection and sharing tool might have been an innovative one, the resulting design was not. A clunky and cluttered UI left users confused as to what to do with it, resulting in frequent abandonment for lack of patience with this design nightmare.
- Macintosh TV
Before Apple improved their concept and created Apple TV, they created Macintosh TV in 1993, attempting to merge the television and computer into one body. This was a great concept (and one we see in a variety of modern-day products via Smart TVs and apps), but the primitive look and bulky design of Apple TV put off users, and the early version was cancelled after 10,000 units.
Only 20 years ago, it was not uncommon to find video game enthusiasts carrying both portable gaming devices and mobile phones. Identifying a clear lack of pocket space and convenience, Nokia developed the hybrid game/mobile phone, the N-Gage. Though this concept was solid and practical, the design made the device cumbersome and difficult to use. For example, users had to remove the case and underlying battery in order to change a game.
- Windows 8
In 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8 and radically changed the UI of the world’s most recognizable OS. Modernizing Microsoft Windows’ design with a Metro-style interface repelled many traditionalists, but removing the Start menu induced downright disgust in many more. When the Start menu disappeared with Windows 8, easy and familiar access to important features and processes seemingly disappeared with it. Microsoft was pelted with a torrent of negative reviews, and learned a pointed lesson on reinventing the wheel as a result.
Well, there you have it … five of the most glaring UI failures in recent history. Winning concepts from tech giants, unraveled by a single common thread: a disregard for user-centered UI. Nothing – neither form nor function, practicality nor innovation – can make up for poor UI, and no product or device can be truly successful without it.