At first sight, the Mac App Store (MAS) desktop application sort of looks like a browser window. It has back/forward buttons, and each page has to load from a remote source like a webpage (fig.1). However when clicking around the app, you’ll pretty soon notice the differences. The MAS is so stripped down of basic usability related functionality, it is difficult for the average, and impossible for most visual / otherwise impaired users to navigate. The app’s design seems to break most accessibility rules and goes straight against the usually perfectionist Apple design approach towards the usability of both their software and hardware.
The App Store is made increasingly important over the last OSX releases as the recommended source of your Mac’s software but there doesn’t seem to be any time spent on improving the app itself.
How about simply making the MAS a windowed Safari instance serving a web-app for a start? And then feel free to throw away what you have now and start over from scratch.
To sum up some of its problems:
Very small text. The default font-size in a web browser is 16px. The app-store size is about 11px.
Low contrast text. Light grey text on a grey background? The designer was probably like: “Text is boring, who reads text?”, which is a common beginner’s mistake.
Where is the zoom function? Tiny text and no way to enlarge it. Neither Cmd [+] or any zoom setting in the menus. This counts for retina screens all the same. Sure the text is sharper, but still too small and light to read from a normal distance without causing a headache.
Loading indication. There is one… sometimes. When it does appear you will likely not notice and wonder why nothing is happening after you clicked something.
Text search on page. Let me Cmd-F for words on the page, please. It can save a lot of time.
Selectable text. All text is unselectable and impossible to copy. Right clicking on links also won’t give you a context menu to open it in a real browser or something.
When clicking “More” to expand the truncated texts on the “Updates” tab, it expands at first but often randomly collapses again while you’re trying to read something. It’s probably reloading the list in the background and replacing the entire window’s content to its default state.
Unable to type in the search box while loading the front page. I don’t need the front page but I’m forced to wait for it. Either let me do what I want or give me a stop button.
The MAS web version is equally bad, but at least you can fix it in a browser with built-in zoom functionality, keyboard navigation, tabbed browsing, familiar page navigation, text search etc.
See fig.2 for the Yosemite “upgrade” of the store; where it went from grey textured backgrounds to white, ignoring every possible improvement.
Striving for originality, usability, simplicity and style — Frique builds jQuery and WordPress plugins and themes that make life a little easier. Frique cares and writes about web and software usability, performance, development workflow and desire for perfection.