It has become apparent that UIs and Web pages benefit/suffer from fashions nearly as much as clothing! While Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg may have eschewed fashions in favor of zen simplicity, most of the world wants a refresh in what they wear and look at. Thus as intuitively simple skeuomorphic interfaces gave way to flat and colorful, it didn’t matter that UI guru Jakob Nielsen complained that the flat interface reduced discoverability and led to low information density. There are other points of contention, and flat interfaces have their selling points in a responsive universe.
But while interfaces change to adapt to new technology, it is also possible that people just want something new to look at. MacOSX Aqua seemed cool when it first became available, and Apple tried to go after countless attempts to rip it off. But now it does look dated.
Web UIs seem to suffer more than anything else. It seems like just when a convention yields fast clean easy UIs, a new fad or technology comes in and wipes it out. One hot fashion that I am completely sick of is “Infinite Scrolling”. I can see the arguments in favor – simplicity, a single action and point of focus, and ease in delivering the single call to action. But it was only a few years ago that web pundits advised against forcing people to scroll. Even Nielsen has warned that this is not a good idea in several instances.
Here is an article explaining 7 reasons why Infinite Scrolling is probably a bad idea. Of course it is a bad idea, except when it isn’t! There is no such thing as one size fits all. Consideration of audience, content and usability should be part of every design. Usability testing is always a good idea.