There’s an art to designing a good user interface. Some companies, like Apple and Google, know this. I get the impression Valve… doesn’t. At least not all the time.
The company’s “Big Picture” version of Steam is fantastic. It’s simple, clear and fast to navigate. Its bread-and-butter, though – the standard desktop client most people use – is a bit of a shambles.
Not only is it slow, but it’s awfully cluttered. The main “tabs” across the top of the screen work well enough, but once you get into more detail – especially on the store pages – things get messy.
In an attempt to clean things up, designer Jay Machalani – whose work on Windows 8 we showcased a little while ago – has taken a swing at redesigning the platform.
“[Steam is] messy, unorganized and filled with old design principles and ideas: the exact opposite of what Valve is”, he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Steam and it works impressively well, but I think we need to move around the furniture and repaint it, get something as sharp as the company itself.”
The main areas he’s looking at are things like the visual appearance (“the use of gradients, half-opacity elements and textured diagonal lines are very dated”) and the way Steam’s services are displayed and organised (“Steam is also suffering from poor app organisation and a lot of repetitive navigation. There are too many unclear menus to do the same task all around the app”).
The redesign concept is universal, Machalani tackling both the desktop client and mobile apps. You can see some examples of his ideas in this post, or if you’re interested in checking out his complete pitch, head to his site for more detail.