[Patch] System Settings : Improve General/Advanced tabs visibility

Torsten Rahn torsten.rahn at credativ.de
Wed Mar 26 18:59:32 GMT 2008

On Wednesday 26 March 2008 17:00:24 Michael Lentner wrote:
> Updated mockup:
> http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/5748/systemsettings2ym9.png

Well, although I do have quite some experience with visual design I get more 
and more the impression that Nicolas et al. are trying to fix an issue that 
doesn't match the requirements of our target user base.

I haven't seen any explanation on what is supposed to get fixed and this is of 
course something that needs to get discussed before coming up with (in this 
case IMHO rather dubious) solutions.

Dialogs need to have a clear structure which guides the target user by means 
of a clear layout and proper usage of markups. Obviously the more important 
things should be set bold and if they are items that are supposed to be 
clicked often they should have icons. The original version of the dialog, 
i.e. the one before Nicolas sent his first patch, did this pretty well and 
looked pretty decent  (That being said I wouldn't claim that a better 
solution doesn't exist however I haven't seen one so far).

Now, what should get put into an advanced tab? Stuff that is supposed to be 
not relevant for most people (think of maybe 90%). And even for the remaining 
10% the stuff that gets displayed under "Advanced" is only relevant in very 
few cases. So it's pretty likely that "Advanced" gets clicked maybe in about 
1% of the cases where "Systemsettings" gets started by some random user. Keep 
in mind that the term "Advanced" doesn't necessarily indicate that a user 
will make more use of a setting the more his experience grows. It just 
indicates that there's a rather special need that can get fullfilled by 
choosing the "Advanced tab".

Now the first version that Nicolas came up with increased the text size, 
boldness, added icons, increased the "hit size" of the tabs and I'm convinced 
that he would have added sound cues to it if it would have been easy enough 
to do it (of course I'm exaggerating with the latter). 
This resulted in a "General/Advanced - tab" appearance that was equally or 
more prominent than other clearly more important and more clicked items which 
get displayed by the settings dialog as well. This is bad because over-usage 
of bold/large/icon-accompagnied labels is one of the reasons that KDE gets 
often criticized for clutter.  If every item gets its icon and bold/large 
font then the usage of these markups is defeated and you get a clutterful 
look where every item on the screen tries to punch into your face in a fight 
for more visibility. 

A good layout with only prominent icons being styled in a more obvious way 
will enable an advanced user to find "his" advanced tab more easily. Even if 
the advanced tab shows up as a plain normal tab entry without bells and 
whistles in the user interface. Why? Because an "advanced" user knows much 
better what to look for and where stuff gets "hidden" that is used more 
rarely. Being sensitive he will be much more easily able to find things in a 
dialog with a clear layout and structure than in a dialog where people have 
been fighting for "visibility" of their personal pet peeve (and where as a 
result all the items are "fighting" for visibility one over the other).

Additionally in terms of artwork I don't think that any of 
the "g/a-t-visibility"-proposals that I've seen so far has matched the 
intended style for "Oxygen" as well as the original status did. I think that 
all of them have looked inferior.
Best wishes,


 Torsten Rahn

 Tel.: 0 21 61 - 46 43 - 192

credativ GmbH, HRB Mönchengladbach 12080
Hohenzollernstr. 133, 41061 Mönchengladbach
Geschäftsführung: Dr. Michael Meskes, Jörg Folz

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