Yahoo! Spreads The UI Lovin’

Yahoo!, in its unending desire to “shake things up a bit,” has released their design patterns and front-end UI libraries to the masses. It’s essentially a collection of interface design best practices and related front-end code that people can adopt and play with. Pretty cool.
So why would Yahoo! release these tools? The optimist in me says that Yahoo! simply wants to share and help others create better end-user experiences with their tools. My more pragmatic side thinks otherwise. Yahoo! is battling the Google juggernaut. What better way to fight the larger enemy than by handing over some of your practices to the community? Commoditize the interface. Focus on content. Arm the masses and let’s see what happens.
On another note, the only thing that worries me about UI design patterns is that they can breed a lack of creativity or out-of-the-box thinking. There are 10-15 common “controls” that make up just about all application user interfaces today. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because establishing common conventions flattens the learning curve for new products. It’s bad because shrink-wrapping interface solutions can discourage innovative thinking and problem-solving.
That’s enough from Cynical Rich. Kudos to Yahoo! for forwarding a philosophy and handing over some of their best assets without fear. Implicit in their openness regarding things like API’s, RSS and now user interfaces is the belief that they will continue to innovate. Good stuff.

3 Comments Yahoo! Spreads The UI Lovin’

  1. Andrew

    What in your mind are those “10-15 common “controls” that make up just about all application user interfaces today.” Just curious.

  2. Rich Ziade

    Off the top of my head:
    1. Boxes where we type stuff in.
    2. Buttons
    3. Tabs/Accordions/Other types of grouping
    4. Selectors (lists, radios, images)
    5. Drag & Drop
    6. Traversing larger sets of information (paging, scrolling)
    7. Hide/Show types of controls
    I can’t really think of many others. A slider, for example, is an interesting and somewhat newer metaphor that we don’t see a lot of today. I don’t even think I’m limiting this to web apps. As I look at my desktop, it’s buttons, selectors and places to type. Not too much more.


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