RFC: System Settings categorisation overhaul

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at kde.org
Sat Oct 3 20:23:24 BST 2009

On October 3, 2009, Ben Cooksley wrote:
> Currently in System Settings the categories structure is not very easy
> to use, and makes finding settings harder than it should be. In order
> to correct this, a complete re-structure of the modules is required,
> removing the General / Advanced sorting and giving modules clear
> names.

a reorganization idea happens every so many months. i push back on them nearly 
every time for the following reasons:

* the re-orgs are almost never done with usability testing; it's someone's 
best idea of the day

* any organization of that many settings as they currently are will have 
failings; it's a scope problem

* users learn the structure of the modules; when we change the structure on 
them all that learning is thrown away and they "get" to start over.

so unless there's some proven benefit to this (yet another) run at 
reorganizing things, please don't. it's a disservice to our users.

i'm not saying it couldn't be better, but let's be sure it gets done better 
instead of trying and running the risk of probably ending up with another not-
great arrangement.

in the proposal made there are already evident issues with "look" (which 
should be appearance iirc?) and "behaviour"; there's inconsistency such as 
"semantic search" (tech jargon; wtf is "semantic", asks the user) when the UI 
the user sees in the workspace just says "Search Service".

what is so "personal" about the items in the Personal? other than user 
account, they aren't more "personal" than anything else. it's a dumping ground 

"Plasma" is shown in the UI. that is not what we show the user. we show the 
user "Workspace". the word "Plasma" should never be seen in the generic 
control UI.

"Plasma Containments" is two jargon words put together. we should not be using 
jargon _anywhere_ in our UIs that the average user is meant to go through. in 
this case the name should be "Desktop Activities". it's a moot point in thi 
case, though, as this panel doesn't belong there at all (unless it's something 
other than what the name suggests?)

Workspace and Application is lumped together under "look" and "behaviour" 
categories; is such a division meaningful? should it be divided into Workspace 
and Application instead, since that's how we're purposefully dividing things 
visually in the user experience? what do the control panels themselves lend 
themselve towards?

what's the difference between "Connections Manager" and "Connection Settings"? 
what "Resources" are being "shared"?

is "Multimedia" really hardware?

would it make more sense to have Workspace / Applications / System instead of 
Personal / W & A Behaviour / Hardware?

and so on ..

i really think this needs to be done with a greater amount of usability input 
and principles applied and with subsequent rounds of testing.

it will also probably mean reworking the content of some control panels.

Aaron J. Seigo
humru othro a kohnu se
GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43

KDE core developer sponsored by Qt Development Frameworks
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