Saturday, July 16, 2005


interface longevity

Designers, like most people, aspire to leave a legacy. Who wouldn't want to believe that something done well should serve people for a long time. But technology-based designs don't generally last long. Technology advances, raises our collective expectations of what is a good design, and once popular designs are put to pasture as more updated ones replace them.

It is rare for an interface to last too long. Even Apple's Mac OS, which seemed to get so much right, has been through radical updating over the years. Websites are finally settling down after years of monthly reskinnings, but there are still subtle changes happening all the time that cumulatively change the look.

Look at screen shots of most any interface from 10 years ago and it will look dated. There is one exception that is so retro it defines dating. The BBC's Ceefax teletype news service seems to have more lives than cats do. I discovered the service when I got Freeview digital box for my TV while living in London. But the service is 30 years old, largely unchanged since the launch. My British friends will no doubt have nostalgic memories of using Ceefax on their BBC micros. Now I see that someone has created a Ceefax "widget" for OSX/Tiger. Who would guess that a service designed for the hearing impaired would have such legs.

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