The steep learning curve of Photoshop

In an era where most interfaces are uber-simple to use, Photoshop and its other Adobe cousins from the creative suite are certainly not one of those. I came across this amazing piece at ‘Rands in repose‘ where the author compares Game design and Application design. On photoshop’s design Rands writes:

The plethora of online Photoshop tutorials demonstrate its power and its flexibility, but I believe they also demonstrate its poor design. Think about it like this: what if each time you plunked down in front of World of Warcraft, you had to spend an hour trying to remember, wait, how do I play this?

I have always wished that Photoshop were easier to use. The learning curve is way too steep and could lead to endless hours of frustration. Perhaps its more about a form vs functions thing for Photoshop’s developers. The functions are way too many that it outweighs the importance of form and design. Usability gets crushed under all that overload of features. And when you realise that, you start thinking; ‘its indeed a herculean task to create a photoshop that’s at least half as simple to use as the current versions.’

But then, when I thought further, I realized that the truth is not what it seems like. The major problem with Photoshop is that it tends to be over-ambitious. It does too much, and in the end as I said, Usability is crushed. It would be much better if Photoshop had a strict goal of photo-editing and some other functions. Not just that, there are other reasons as well. We, the users are also to be blamed for using Photoshop as a one-stop tool for all our creative needs. There is a reason why dedicated tools like illustrator, fireworks and the like exist.

It’s all easier said than done. While we can endlessly rant about how poorly designed photoshop is, one can’t take anything away from its mighty capabilities. As Rands writes in the article ‘Two universes‘, some games/applications have too much reliance on exploration and some have too much reliance on explanation. The day when Photoshop’s creators strike the right balance between explanation and exploration, it will be a win-win for all of us- the creative community, the end user and Adobe.

Re-designing Google talk

Thought that Google talk needs a cleaner, newer look. I have  tried to provide quick access to important actions through this design. Here’s my attempt to make it look better.

 

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