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I have an existing windows application, for which I have decided to create a Mac version. The problem is that the current UI involves a lot of buttons, tabbed panels, multiple windows etc.

This UI had been rated as intuitive and easy to use and straightforward by many customers and editors. But a beginner (very less experience) may find in confusing a little, but it has been complemented with tutorial.

When creating the Macintosh variant, should I focus on creating a simplified and minimalistic UI (this does not mean the current UI is complex, but I think Mac user's prefer a simple UI right?) or should I try to copy the exact same thing?

By reducing the UI some of the features may be missing. But it can be added later if needed. Should I focus on a fresh approach (this is easier rather than copying the complex UI pattern) or should I go with the old recognized setup?

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How much effort is involved in doing a direct port? If you do that then you could do some user testing on a mac to see how mac users get on with it from there. –  JonW Dec 9 '13 at 9:32
@JonW Direct Porting is not possible –  alias man Dec 9 '13 at 11:17
Do you expect users to have to switch between the Mac and Windows versions of the app at all? Or will they likely be new users? Does the app synchronise data between both platforms? –  Kit Grose Dec 10 '13 at 2:36
OSX users don't want a 'simple' UI. They want a well designed UI. As do Windows users. Both prefer a UI native to their particular OS, of course. That you are asking this question would make me guess that you are not an OSX user. At the very least, you're not going to want to port this over by yourself until you either you are yourself acquainted with OSX or you bring on an OSX UI developer to assist. –  DA01 Dec 12 '13 at 7:37

3 Answers 3

Microsoft and Apple have slightly different UI guidelines, which I think you should adhere to. It may be important to note that the latest OS X Human Interface Guide hints a near-future shift towards touch supportive desktop interfaces. Which, if complied with, could mean a radical application redesign. The same is also already true for windows 8 applications.

Other than that, I believe that a system should be similar (excluding OS controls such as file dialogs) and equally usable on both PC and Mac. I fail to think of a single application that has Mac/PC UI variants (say, Photoshop, for instance). Some applications running on a PC are minimalistic, whilst some running on a Mac are complex. Users just want their needs met in the most efficient way, regardless of whether the application runs on this OS or another. Mind you, the popularity of web applications (eg, gmail) mean that users are accustomed to a variety of interfaces, particularly on desktop machines.

I think your question applies much more to mobile devices, where 'native' interfaces are much more obvious than on desktops.

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Thanks.I think i will concentrate on what you have said –  alias man Dec 9 '13 at 15:42

Having a simple UI does not need to mean a loss of functionality, it means a prioritization of functionality.

I would suggest "focusing a fresh approach", as you said, and when you do so, start with the following:

  1. List all your desired functionality and features. Distinguish between the two. Functions are transparent to a user, while the features fit into the user story.
  2. Group the functions and features when appropriate. Features and functions that relate might combine well together in the UI
  3. Prioritize the functions and features. 20% should be high, 30% medium, and %50 low. This distribution is important. If everything is high or equal priority, it may cause a lack of direction and understanding of where to focus for the user.
  4. Use this prioritization to make design decisions. The high priority items should be visible right away, while the lower ones may be hidden by an action or two.
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Mac users can deal with complex UI, like Adobe and Maya. Windows users appreciate streamlined interfaces as much as Mac users.

When porting to Mac, it is essential that you have genuine Mac UI person on your team, who understands specifics. Some typical issues are:

  1. Macs have different common menu layout and keyboard scheme. Make sure your Preferences and Exit are in the Application menu among other things. "Exit" is named "Quit". It is ugly and confusing when your application has "Quit" in the Application menu and "Exit" in the File menu.
  2. Integrate Mac UI elements. Personally I find it really irritating when document-oriented applications don't show document proxy icon on the titlebar or use status area on the menu bar to show information that belongs to Dock icon.
  3. Pay attention to install experience. Do you want to distribute through the App Store? Read the guidelines, they may impact your system design.
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