"We take it for granted because U.I. is a big, big deal now," said Maria Giudice, who worked with Ms. Staples at TUB and has remained a friend. "But she was one of the few people who was really working in that space."
Interface design was full of thoughtful little innovations and touches of magic, like hovering a cursor over a blurry object to bring it into focus. "I know that probably doesn’t sound like much now, but at the time it took a lot to make that happen," Ms. Staples said.
Icons, though limited to a meager dollop of chunky pixels, were also a place for customization. Using ResEdit, a programmer’s software, she once constructed an icon of a ceramic coffee mug with a tiny doughnut nestled against it. "It even had a little shading," she said.
Her clients in the ’90s included AT&T, the Smithsonian Institution, Sony and Paramount/Viacom, where she helped create a design for an interactive television prototype (a forerunner, in many ways, to streaming TV).
Meanwhile, the World Wide Web was erupting. "For me, the internet was the beginning of the end," Ms. Staples said. When she began working as an interface designer six years prior, graphical user interface wasn’t widely understood; now web pages were popping up by the hundreds, and everyone was surfing the net. Everything was becoming more standardized, commercialized, crowded and boring.