Master's thesis about OS X

Discussion in 'macOS' started by NeonBible, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. NeonBible macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2012

    First of all: I went through the different categories, but found this to be the most relevant one; thus, I am sorry if this thread should have been posted elsewhere.

    To the topic: I am doing my last year on a master in Interaction Design and have to deliver a suggestion for my master's thesis very soon. I want to write about OS X and relate it to design/interaction design, and wonder if you guys have any suggestions for interesting research questions? I am also willing to compare the different operating systems, i.e. including Windows and Linux too, so all suggestions would be really appreciated. Feel also free to include iOS, as I am very interested in their mobile operating system too.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    I have a few ideas, though I don't know how relevant they are to your field.

    You could look at whether the aesthetics of an OS's GUI affect how people perceive the operating system's function. For example, lots of people say Windows 8 is a bad OS because they don't like its interface, even though it is pretty good underneath. Yosemite is receiving a similar treatment from some users. Obviously, the ease of use of the interface is important, but I wonder how many people unconsciously judge the actual functionality of the OS based on its appearance. If you have some coding skills, you could even design an experiment using 2 Linux systems, one with an ugly but stable interface and the other with a very pretty unstable one. Have the subjects perform a number of tasks and artificially induce bugs and crashes in the pretty one, then ask them which OS is better.

    You could also research error messages. Good error messages are always a delicate balancing act between too much info and not enough. It always seems that they are either something stupid and useless like "Something went wrong" or are so complicated that understanding them requires advanced knowledge that few users will have. I think it would be interesting give test subjects a number of error messages, then test their knowledge about the problem to see which ones conveyed the information best.

    You could even extend this to implications on security. People often think they are being attacked when they aren't, or click through warnings when they actually are. A good warning/error message will mitigate this.

    Linux and BSD offer a ton of different interfaces to compare, but the userbase is much different. I don't know how valid a comparison would be between Linux/BSD and Windows/OS X.
  3. unixwrocks, Aug 2, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014

    unixwrocks macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2014
    OS X probably sets the standard for usability and simplicity. Not sure if it still holds true, but at one point (around Jaguar) Apple had a manual for developers regarding standards of UI design for OS X.

    To start.. Just look at how much detail is put into simple simple stuff like applications on OS X vs. Windows or Linux. Or even the default placement of the finder icon or main applications folder on the Dock.

    Traditionally the main gateway to files and and applications was on the user's laft hand side of the screen. Apple put them both on the user's right hand side. Why? Because most people are right handed and it's awkward movement to keep everything to the left.

    Also, look at the design of the "start menu" vs the application's Stack on the Dock. With the StartMenu, users need to squint to left corner to see what little icon to click. With the Application stack, application icons are large and spread across the entire screen.

    Put simply, an hardware metaphor: most companies hire engineers to build the cheapest looking hardware designs possible. Apple hires designers like Jonathan Ive to create brilliance, simplicity, aesthetic, and easy to use in all aspects.

    EDIT: I think Steve Jobs summed it up best, when comparing Jaguar to to Windows XP. "What kind of GUI design tells users to click the "Start Menu" to shut a computer down????"..

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