Tag Archives: Steve Krug

Hey Tim. Here’s a “Portrait” icon. See? It’s taller.

There be gremlins? A ghost in the big giant Apple machine? An Easter Egg? Or somebody’s idea of a joke?

Because a couple of important icons have gotten switched!! And “icons”, little pictures that we rely on to represent certain very specific things, are important! You can’t just go switching them around! You’ll defeat their purpose. You’ll make them unreliable. I mean, what if somebody changed all the light switches in your house so that when you click “On” the lights go off? Or swapped faucets so hot water came out when you wanted cold?? What if one day Captain Aubrey decided that port would be starboard from now on?

Details are so important. Attention to important details helped establish Apple as the platform of visual artists. Unfortunately, someone has forgotten the importance of small details, in this case, in the difference between Landscape and Portrait. And here’s what I’m talking about:

On the Macintosh—Look at this Print Dialog from MacOS Monterey 12.1.1.

Notice anything?

The Print dialog has two icons, helpfully labeled “Portrait” and “Landscape”. Two tiny upward-pointing arrows are also supposed to help you figure this out. But if the rectangles were placed correctly, arrows would be unnecessary. The ORIENTATION of the rectangle is the indicator, the rectangles don’t even need anything inside them to make this point. (Ideally, the Landscape rectangle would contain mountains, not people, but we’re not going to fix everything today…).

Remember:

Portrait=long edge vertical (tall).
Landscape=long edge horizontal (short).

The arrows are there because the rectangle of the Landscape icon is turned on its side! It’s in Portrait mode, the same exact orientation as the rectangle of the Portrait icon. This misses the whole point of the VISUAL CUE that icons represent!! The “person” image inside the rectangle does not make it “Portrait”!

The rectangle icons would be more obvious if they were empty. But in this Mac dialog, in the Landscape icon, the “person” is sideways, which only makes sense if you turn your head sideways. Do you look at your screen that way??

That’s one issue. Once this flaw was established somewhere, somebody “understood” that any rectangle with a “person” in it is a Portrait icon. Confused? They were. Now you’ll never guess where the Landscape icon turns up, the one that is correctly oriented, but unfortunately contains a person image in it.

On iOS—Look at this so-called “Genius Pick” from “Tips” for iPad

How about here?

This “Tip” literally tells you to tap on a LANDSCAPE Icon “to turn on Portrait mode.”

Now we have the right icon (Landscape), being asked to do the wrong thing. Where will it end?? What I shouldn’t have to explain here, is that you ought to have to tap on a Portrait Icon to turn on Portrait mode! Does anyone at Apple know who Steve Krug is anymore? Or Don Norman?

And so, continuing my long tradition of helping Apple when I can, I, TechWite, have returned from a long and mysterious absence to remind you, “Think Different”. Remember that Landscape and Portrait are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, historically represented by TWO DIFFERENT icons, and essentially, by THE ORIENTATION of the TWO RECTANGLES.

🤐 So many words! Try this:

“I’m Portrait!”—a tall image, with longer vertical edge

“I’m Landscape!” —a short image with a long horizontal edge

What’s to be done? I’m not going to correct every dialog and Genius Tip in Apple world, but I’ll give you a place to start. Please fix the icon in the Mac Print Dialog so it looks something like this:

Oh look! No tiny arrows!

When you’re done with that, then you can tackle the rest of this confusion in all the bazillions of iPhones and iPads and every other iThing. Okay? Glad to help. Now get to it!

I’m back.

—TechWite