Originally Posted by Kickaha
I'll go out on a limb here, and say I have a problem with this statement. It was 'just something people came up with' in the same way that, say, sociology, psychology, or heck, cosmological physics was.
There were a tremendous number of GUI user studies done to create the original HIG - it wasn't just created out of thin air based on personal whims and ideas, as you seem to imply.
All if these "studies" some of which I read back then, were looking at something from position of poor understanding of what people can really use or understand. Assumptions were made about a new area of human endeavor, and what was thought to be difficult has turned out to not be so.
I'm sure that the original Mac team at Apple would be aghast at how far things have progressed. Gee, they has expressed that. In fact, these old guidelines are obsolete.
Does it need to be re-assessed? Heck yeah. Users have changed... but basic human psychology and physiology has not. I suspect that you'd find little different in the fundamentals behind the HIG, but it could be vastly improved to take advantage of newer ideas and apply the same sort of refinement to them that was used on the original. Let's not ditch the baby out with the bathwater. Fitt's Law still applies, after all.
I'm not saying that it should just be thrown out. But, much of it isn't relevant anymore. Now that people are used to computing, the very strict ideas they had about HIG can be loosened up.
It used to be thought that people couldn't multitask, and that was true for adults who weren't brought up to multitask.
Now, today, it's different. My daughter does several thing at once, and while the efficiancy of each is slightly degraded, it doesn't matter overall. We can't do that the way she and her friends do. Because of that, HIG gets written by the people who are adults, and who can't understand that a newer group of people can work differently.
Most older HIG's deal with static elements in fixed places, because that's the way most people learned to operate, and the people writing these rules, as well as the people in the studies, are limited by that. But it's not necessarily true anymore.
We also get too caught up by the concept of efficiency. Efficiency also means boring, and that can be worse. Younger people today are used to movement in almost everything. We are not. What's disconcerting to me, is thought of as normal to my daughter. Those annoying Flash ads, well, she hardly sees them.
What is happening, I believe, is that younger designers are working on these interfaces. designers who were brought up to see things differently than we do. We may find some of this difficult, and distracting, but they don't.
You have to do your work for the up coming audience, not the one that is fast disappearing.