Delight > Clean

With the release of the third Monterey beta, Apple added an accessibility setting that lets you bring back the Proxy icon, which they removed in Big Sur. (John Gruber writes about this in more detail.)

Monterey Setting.png

While I think it is silly to put the proxy icon under an accessibility setting, I’m glad it has returned. It has, however, only returned for the true believers that already know about the power of the proxy icon. Folks that have never heard about the proxy icon are not going to go find this cryptic setting.

My concern is that the desire to have clean interface clashes with Apple’s historical priority, to make a delightful interface. It was the delight that hooked me on the Mac in the first place. If we live in an era where the proxy icon can only be something nerds turn on from a buried preference pane, what does that mean for new delightful interface elements we haven’t seen yet? In my opinion, delight always beats clean.

For example, just look at the original Mac Control Panel. It is in my mind one of the best examples of delightful and useful UI ever created. Do you think that team was worried about clean or delight?