The Future of UI and the Dream of the ‘90s
I once worked for a client where I was the only Designer on the team and the only female involved in building the product. The client was obsessed with integrating ‘social.’ Despite my general dislike of arbitrary social functions, they were adamant that it had to happen so I moved ahead with creating a heart icon to represent a ‘Like’ function. It was a small piece of a much larger UI redesign so I assumed it would be glossed over and I could focus on fighting the bigger battles.
I tested various animations for the action and a few hours later, the heart icon was axed by a developer. When further questioned, I found out that someone on the team decided it was too feminine (i.e. too tied to our emotions) and that a man wouldn’t want to click on it.
The Matrix (1999)
My previous colleague’s refusal to add an emotionally-associated action to the app is a symptom of a pervasive obsession in the tech industry. The visual trend in interface design occasionally mimics interfaces out of past science fiction T.V. shows and movies. This is somewhat fair; the Designers who’ve spent their childhoods absorbing this media are now adults designing interfaces. We have been bombarded with imagery all the way back from the 70's (albeit less frequent then) and this trend still persists today.
Minority Report (2002)
This visual concept was seemingly fully formed towards the end of the 90s. Design aesthetics became systems of mathematically arranged lines, geometric shapes, numbers and cold colour palettes. All interfaces were stripped of humanistic elements aside from the occasional AI human face.
In this dream from the 90's, we hoped for a world where every computer knows us personally. We would wake up to them, have them around us all day, and they would be the last thing we interact with before we go to sleep. They would predict our needs and wants and all interfaces would feel as natural as having a conversation with a friend. Technology would become our primary means (or only means) of communication and we would form relationships with these objects that take care of us...
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