[LAU] Some new things to play with

Philipp Überbacher hollunder at lavabit.com
Wed Oct 13 20:58:52 UTC 2010

Excerpts from Arnold Krille's message of 2010-10-13 19:52:29 +0200:
> Hi,
> On Wednesday 13 October 2010 18:56:27 Folderol wrote:
> > I personally think it's a bad idea where colour is concerned. If you have a
> > couple of editing windows open in several different apps, it can very
> > quickly become extremely confusing, if they all look the same.
> When several windows are open, conformity is the key to usability.
> Things get much worse when every app uses its own colors and one editor is 
> white on black, the next is green on black, the third is blue and red 
> waveforms on light-violett tracks on dark-gray windows. While browser, email 
> and office are all in the standard selected by the user. Which could be black on 
> white or white on black or yellow on blue(*). Or its red on black because its 
> all running on an foh-machine in the dark (where light colors are generally 
> offensive to the darkness-adaption of the eye), unless you don't want your 
> audio apps used under these 'special' use-cases.
> (*) Yes, that sounds and looks strange. But only to use not-impaired people. 
> Some will get an un-usable experience with your app if it doesn't follow the 
> system-standard.
> Rant: Its quite funny that more and more application- and environment-
> developers both from free open-source and from closed source, paid business 
> invest more and more time and money into getting the visuals and the overall 
> experience right and usable. And at the same time the audio community (okay, 
> audio, not visuals...) is using pixel-based widgets and each-app-its-own-
> color-scheme. In a field of application (aka use-cases) where its important to 
> quickly see the important parts without adjusting to different colors on every 
> program-change.
> @Fons, this is not about your apps specifically.
> Its about the general direction of color-scheme development I see with many 
> apps from many audio developers. We argue about rotation-vs-sliding on our 
> knobs, can neither find a consensus nor a global way of settings so users can 
> choose their behaviour. And we fail miserable by in anything concerned with 
> usability (proven by studies of usability-experts! [*]) and claim its for 
> better usability (but only in the eye of the programmer). This kind of sucks. 
> Being told that my desktop sucks in usability because each app uses the same 
> color-scheme is just a joke. I use that desktop every day and its much more 
> confusing when I have to work with the very few (gladly!) apps that have 
> different colors...
> Have fun,
> Arnold
> [*] No, I don't have references at hand. I just look at the big projects with 
> their usability experts and their guide-lines. Which they create so that 
> developers like you and me don't have to worry about colors, knob-behavior, 
> widget movement and key shortcuts...

In my opinion the whole color business is completely overrated. I
personally hardly give a crap about how consistent or inconsistent
colors are, there are lots of more important things.

I do agree that consistency can have its benefits. I had to do a lot of
end user support recently, mostly on windows machines. It helped that
the menus of at least each windows version where consistent, no matter
whether the system language was Korean, Slovakian, Spanish or English.
If something is the second menu item from the bottom it's the same in
any language, when it's the icon with the cable, it's the same in any
language. This is useful consistency.

Also a lot more important than colors are shortcuts. 'Desktop guys',
those people who dictate what a desktop should look like and how it
should work, seem to be mostly 'mousers' who care about shiny icons and
wallpapers to show off their cool desktops to windows users. Shortcuts
are IMHO where the real usability improvements can be made.

A simple practical example:
I want to close a program. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Just from the
programs I often use I know the following shortcuts:
1) CTRL+q
2) CTRL+w
3) CTRL+x
4) some shortcut to open a menu and another arcane one (never manage to
figure those out) to select the quit option
5) indicated shortcuts (underlined letters) that don't work
6) no shortcuts at all

The option to quit a program is probably the one thing almost all
programs share, yet there's no consistency at all and I have to try on
average three different shortcuts to get the desired result (or use my
window managers shortcut..). That's really ridiculous. If you care about
colors when there's a mess like this around I think somethings wrong.

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