Was passed along these 8 tips for designing user friendly applications the other day. It is a quick read, and pretty good general advice ... in particular about providing a consistent behaviour.
The only item in the list that gave me a moment of pause was "Be creative, but not inventive". Why not be both I wonder? How much does the risk of being too different compare to the reward of developing the next iPod type of user interface?
Considering that the author works at SAP, and is likely targetting an audio of business tooling software developers, perhaps that is sage advice for that audience, in that context. I think that in other markets, other user interface contexts, the advice is not as much a rule as a guideline.
If your application is oriented at the PC desktop world, then you likely aren't going to be revolutionizing the world with a new user interface any time soon, the bumptop desktop is a great example. Non-rectangular UI elements, animated graphics, application re-skinning and task oriented UI changes is about as revolutionary as you'll get.
Consumer devices tend to lead the way when it comes to pushing the envelope on user interface innovation. Likely because their lifecycle is such that any success can be repeated and any failure can quickly be forgetten as 'yet another dropped product'. It may also be due to the fact that they are not limited (or empowered?) by the traditional input devices so new ways of connecting the user to the data they interacting with need to be created.
I'd like to see more creativity and more inventiveness in application user interfaces and we hope that that is something that Storyboard Suite is going to help our customers achieve.
: Don't get me wrong, I love Bumptop. I think that it is unique, cool and occasionally more usefull than my standard desktop. Where it would be massively useful would be if I used a tablet interface the size of my coffee table, but alas I don't have one of these