Software aging well vs. UI that triggers OCD

I had an idea the other day that I shared on Twitter:

@mikemccracken: It would be cool if there was a way for well-used & loved GUI software to gracefully show its age, like a good leather wallet…

I still like this idea, and I loved the example that Bryan Knight replied with - the OS 8 Color Picker crayons, seen in the third "Colour Selector" image on the OS 8 GUIdebook page.

However, it just occurred to me that it'd be hard to design a UI that shows its age or use gracefully without looking "dirty" and triggering the kind of OCD that makes some of us empty the trash just because the icon looks full. I can think of a few other things that do that to me:

  • Of course, the full trash can
  • Unread counts of all kinds
  • MS Word 08 showing "[Compatibility Mode]" in the window title for files that aren't .docx format
  • Badges on files in the finder that show source control status - I tried this once and it drove me crazy

There are probably more. Share yours in the comments if you like. I'd also be really interested in other examples besides the crayons where UI changes gracefully as you use the software more…


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