is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Always late to the party, I finally took out some time last night to install the various libraries on my server that make it possible for me to run ecto, the desktop weblog editor and management program. It’s nice, very slick and I can see why it’s gained such a devoted following among advanced weblog authors; it sports some features — like its very handy Upload Manager — that vastly simplify working with Movable Type. Already it looks well worth its US$17.95 price tag, in spite of the fact that its globe icon is so generic I sometimes find myself staring at my Dock, not able to focus enough to identify it.
Actually what bothers me more about ecto is its strange juxtaposition between modern, Mac OS X-era user interface affordances and strangely anachronistic UI details. The program has option drawers that pop out smoothly, sheets that slide down gracefully, and Aqua-style buttons that would look at home in any Apple-authored software. The whole thing, at first glance, looks very current.
One Window to Rule Them All
But then there’s the list of Entries and Drafts, where users can find their twenty or so most recent postings to their Web site. This part of the interface, curiously, resides in its own window, separated from the editing section. I guess that makes a kind of simplistic sense, but it strikes me as a throwback to the early 1990’s, when applications threw up a new window for each segment of the user experience.
What I’d like to see is for ecto to make a simple change to its layout and consolidate its two main windows into one — more along the lines of Apple’s Mail, PulpFiction or Hog Bay Notebook. Doing so would remove a lot of the awkwardness of jumping back and forth between two windows, at least for me. And, just by chance, I happen to have a quick little comp to show the ecto developers what I have in mind right here.