I have been getting a lot of feedback on my last piece about Skype for Mac, varying from full endorsement to complete disdain.
Again, I am no large design agency struggling to secure its future income, nor am I striving for peer recognition and blog traffic. All I am trying to convey is that design is a process, not patchwork. I totally ignore the circumstances under which the new UI design came to light, but I can't stress enough that the way Skype dealt with the backlash is inappropriate and would unlikely solve any of the usability problems currently affecting millions of users around the world.
I might have used strong language, but it was for the sole purpose of drawing attention to the seriousness of the matter. I am not threatening anyone and I am not against design contests per se. The issues at hand are not merely aesthetic; they are functional and would not be simply addressed with pixel work.
For those of you saying that this is a chance for young designers to get their name out in the world, please remember that there are thousands of other ways to do so. Small developers and open source projects that need good UI designers are not hard to come by.
Interestingly enough, Skype seems to be generating a lot of buzz with their disastrous UI. TechCrunch points out that:
Skype itself seems at the least unaware of the problem, recently and flippantly holding a design contest for a custom chat style, which lead to a barrage of comments from angry users.
The same articles brings up an interesting take on the UI by Matthias Kampitsch:
In a thorough overview of the new interface, Lukas Mathias humorously notes:
It seems Skype has noticed that there is a discrepancy in quality between the two versions, and has decided to make the two versions more similar to each other. Unfortunately, instead of making the Windows version of Skype better, they've decided to fix the discrepancy by making the Mac version of Skype more like the Windows version.
He also went as far as suggesting his own alternatives.
The Skype team should consider themselves lucky that many good designers are willing to help them out, but quite frankly, they don't deserve your contributions.
PS: It seems like I sounded cocky to some, but that doesn't bother me as long as my message gets through. Apologies to those who felt offended by my previous piece.