Stellar, arrogant, shiny apps

Musicly, Snapchat, Slingshot, Clear.

Somehow we got to this day, in which many of the most popular apps are interface-less apps. Where the structure of the app is not clear, navigation is not consistent, animation is everywhere (like, in every single element). Kids and teen love them. Most of these apps make a boom and then disappear, but some of them even manage to stay.

I come from a very functionality-focused school of design. All is important, but USABILITY > BEAUTY, CLARITY > AESTHETICS.

I’ve heard too many times that the best design is invisible. However, I think that these apps have taken it too literally. Having an “invisible” interface means the design makes the task so easy and fast, that you don’t see the UI any more. The interface is secondary, the task I want to accomplish or the content I want to see is on the front.

However, it seems that here we got rid of buttons, menus and bars, to the point in which I can barely find myself in the app. The impulse to make everything big, colorful, exciting — is purely overwhelming for me.

I work on a social mobile app and I download these to research on patterns and trends. I know I am not the target group for these apps. But I’ve grown up holding a smartphone, I am a tech-savvy person, and still these apps make me feel not capable. Feeling not capable makes me feel old.

Is this just a trend? Are function-focused design, usability and clarity irrelevant for the young public anymore? Is coolness all what matters today?
And, being that these kids will be grown-ups in 5 years, how do we adapt out design to this?

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