Please, stop forcing the touch-world on my mouse
Yep, I get it. We are living in a touchy world. Tablets, Smartphones, Surfaces – it’s all touchable these days. Want to call someone? Touch him. Want to browse somewhere? Touch there. Touch, touch, touch. And touch is great. It’s revolutionized the way we interact with our data, the internet, applications and devices. It’s changed the way we work on the go. It’s brought joy and comforting warmth into our technology-loving hearts. And it changed software.
Of course, you say. And I agree. Yes, touch requires a different approach to interface design. It requires new doors to be opened for us people to interact with our data. And that’s just as awesome as the touchy-thingy itself.
But there’s a fine line. A line that should not be crossed. And that line is my non-touch-desktop-computer. GMail finally launched it’s Offline Google Mail Chrome Extension. And it’s great to be able to go through my E-Mail offline. To write up a draft I want to send later. To have offline access to important information. And I bet every tablet user loves the interface. Because it’s really touchy-friendly. The exact same thing goes for the new Chrome Home Screen. It’s been revamped, and I get how the new design and behavior is just awesome on any touch device.
But my desktop computer, and my laptop for that matter, do not respond much to the touchy-thingy. And so I am left with interfaces that actually slow down and complicate my workflow. Granted, the GMail web interface isn’t the most beautiful in the world (I most certainly hope the Google UI revolution spreads over to it soon), but it offers lots of powerful ways to interact with. It makes it easy to work fast. Which the offline GMail app does not. Quite the opposite, it sacrifices efficiency for touchy-thingy-compatibility-ness.
Now, just to make this clear: I’m not against touch-optimized UIs. Not at all. I think they are necessary and important and sooner than later any software will need to offer a solid and efficient touch-interface. But it cannot replace the classic mouse & keyboard oriented UI. That’s just stupid. A touch device doesn’t have no keyboard because it’s more efficient. It has no keyboard because it needs to be small and portable. It doesn’t have no mouse because that makes working so much more convenient, it has no mouse because dragging along a mouse at all times would just not be very practical. And also make you look like a serious geek.
And I’m not even saying that there cannot be a middle ground. While maybe some applications can make it and have the “one interface that does it all” (whis is much, much harder to do as one might think, because it forces lots of compromises on the UI and it’s functionality while also adding a lot of complexity to the app itself), I think in the meanwhile there should be some kind of a choice beyond “Will I further use this software or not?”. So if you optimize for touch, please, do not automatically disregard the rest of us. There might not be a mouseover state on tablets, but that doesn’t mean that a mouseover state hurts for us mousey-people. Popups may make a lot of sense on a touch device, but just scrolling around with my mousewheel or keyboard makes me giggle in joy and, more often than not, shed the one or other tear of efficiency-induced bliss.
So bring on your touch-UIs, I will embrace them wherever touching I am. But, for the sake of my workflow and speed, do not castrate my mouse & keyboard input devices.