Shapes and Colors

Or rectangles, anyway


I don’t often talk about the strictly visual, but as an occasional graphic artist, there’s something that’s been grating on my sensibilities.

Is it just me, or is the general design aesthetic of software interfaces aggressively trending back toward blocky, bulky, high-contrast solid-color sterility?  Microsoft’s stuff is heading that way, so is Google’s, and even the Kindle update I got a few days ago turned everything big and square.

Things looked like this in the ’80s and ’90s because of low resolutions, simpler processors, and the fact that having any GUI at all was initially impressive, but have we not grown past this phase?

Did Photoshop disappear when I wasn’t looking, forcing designers to resort to MS Paint?

Does everything have to look like a social networking website?

But on the other end of the scale we have those that are pushing for cheesy skeuomorphism, which just adds a needless layer of nonsense between the user and the task.  I guess there’s no winning, is there?

I thought we had a nice middle ground of rounded corners, subtle gradients, and smooth translucencies.

So I wonder – who is this rectangular regression look appealing to?  It is ‘cleaner’, I’ll give you that, but so is plain text if that’s the only concern.  I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but the unavoidable contrast with the elegant designs of yesterday and resemblance to the restricted designs of yestercentury just make it scream “unpolished” to my subconscious.

Any thoughts?  Or am I just being persnickety?


Bene scribete.


6 responses to “Squares

  1. I understand it’s frustrating when you don’t need all the fancy filters in Photoshop, but the most difficult design skill to master is simplicity.

  2. All web/app design should strive for elegant simplicity ala “Don’t Make Me Think” and “Simple and Usable”.


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