Re: Cult and control
UI is not subjective. It is contentious.
It is possible to quantify how well a UI performs:
How fast can a user perform the key tasks?
How long does it take a new user to figure out and perform the key tasks?
How many mistakes or wrong turns does a new user take when performing a key task for the first time?
They can also be surveyed subjectively on how frustrated they got, and how well this preformed compared to other software they have used.
A bad UI will score low all of the above. 0% subjective.
What usually happens is that nobody bothers to do the above because of cost, time, don't know how, don't value it. In the absence of data, UIs are subjective, everyone has an opinion, and most people's guesses of UI quality are way off-base.
The exception is that experienced designers accurately predict software usability. However I have seen people argue with them until the above tests provide the concrete evidence, and even after the tests are done that they were 'rigged' LOL. It's a wasted opportunity to get an experienced designer in and then argue with them and accuse them of falsifying data.
Best case scenario is: Experienced designer. No expensive testing. Key design recommendations. Implement all except the most costly. Better product from the user perspective.
I agree with Terry's point on this topic.