I think a true classic endures the test of time. As a car fanatic, certain car designs transcend the era in which the vehicle was built. What looked great fifty years ago still looks great today.
For example, the Duesenberg looks fantastic and I love to look at the lines and curves and swoops of an excellently restored example. The Bugatti Atlantic Coupe and Talbot Lago, similar styling in my mind, take my breath away.
I still think the Jaguar XKE, coupe or convertible, is the sexiest car ever made. The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe remains an icon and I wish I could afford one! The ’57 T-bird still turns heads driving down the street. There are more on my list of personal favorites, such as the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Ford GT40.
Today’s styling is completely different than these classic cars. Yet these great car designs persist over time, turning heads and capturing hearts of new generations. Some cars are so classic, car companies are re-creating them today.
In short, the Classics rock, whether it’s cars, music or great UIs.
While people get nostalgic over the Commodore 64, the Apple II, the Altair, the Tandy, and even Pong, Asteroids and Pac-Man are remembered fondly, if I ask, “What are the classic UIs?” nothing really stands out. People might answer, “Windows 3.1” or “the Macintosh.” Not because the UIs were great, but because these UIs were a quantum leap in functionality.
What makes a car design become a classic can be boiled down to a couple of descriptive words: Elegance, style, flair. Great cars evoke a passion within us and new generations still look at these examples and go, “Wow!”
I believe that great UIs can be created with elegance, style and flair, and these transcend the latest fashions. You might say we don’t need a UI to create passion, but why not? Mac users love their Macs. It’s not just because their MacBook Air weighs 12.7 ounces and practically levitates in the air. They have an interaction with their pc that is generated by the UI.
Whether you’re following the Metro trend, or the Apple trend, or some other “style” (style as in type, or kind), a great UI has an aesthetic quality to it that is pleasing to the eye. Whether the buttons are mono-color or the old “3D” look, an elegant UI is an elegant UI.
Great UIs are well laid out, with the bits and pieces well organized, it’s easy to read, it’s easy to use. They’re not just utilitarian, they have some flair to them, a touch of elegance, a dash of class.
My personal opinion is: don’t worry so much about the latest trend. Instead worry about functionality and elegance, flair and class. AND if you can incorporate the latest trend, then do it! Creating a UI that follows (or leads) the latest trend shouldn’t be the primary design consideration, making a great UI should be #1.
Create the Classics.