bb's blog

On Usability and User Experience of Free Software

Libreoffice Human Interface Guidelines: The second step

May 31st, 2015

The Libreoffice Human Interface Guidlines (HIG) have been given a new lease on life. In this posting we introduce the impact of two primary personas on guidelines about menu bars and tool bars.

Almost a month has passed and it’s time for an update. The Libreoffice UX team finished two more guidelines that are introduced in this posting. The interesting point is not what the guidelines constitutes in detail but the impact of the previously defined articfacts. Because we introduced two primary personas for whose Libreoffice is being developed we need to address this fact as well in every design and workflow decision. And of course the guidelines have to reflect the duality likewise.

[Read more…]

KSysGuard: The Green Paper

May 22nd, 2015

This green paper summarizes user comments regarding needs and wishes for a new KSysGuard and presents a couple of mockups to initiate the discussion at the KDE forums.

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KSysGuard: What are your requirements from a system monitor?

May 9th, 2015

The KDE system monitor needs an update. In the first step we like to ask you to join the brainstorming about requirements. What do you want integrated into KSysGuard?

KSysGuard has been attributed as visually outdated and suboptimal in respect to its functionality. The competitors do have beautiful layouts that makes it easy to grasp the system state at a glance.

Task manager

From the usability point of view, there is no common layout or workflow. While Microsoft has a similar approach as KDE with different, tabbed views to the information (one process table with CPU, RAM etc.), Apple provides with the Activity Monitor a layout with tabs for the data sources but shows the history on every page. And command line tools like top merge it all together.

Microsoft published a nice blog post about the development of their task manager. Based on telemetry data Steven Sinofsy argues that applications and processes are more important than other information like networking. However, if the user cannot be deal with the shown information due to inappropriate visualization or missing functionality the feature will receive less interest.

So before we redesign KSysGuard we would like to start with a qualitative survey on the requirements. [Continue reading…]

Libreoffice Human Interface Guidelines: First steps

May 4th, 2015

The Libreoffice Human Interface Guidlines (HIG) have been given a new lease on life. In the first step, generic artifacts including the vision, personas, and an UX manifesto are presented.

The work on usability and design is often seen as some kind of anarchistic creativity: some people receive divine inspiration out of the blue and read tea leaves to decide how features have to be implemented. But that’s not true. Both the creative work on visual design as well as the composition of an effective and efficient user interface is hard work based on axioms. Those fundamentals are “written in stone” by Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) with the objective to improve the experience for users by making application interfaces more consistent and hence more intuitive and learnable. [Read on…]

Spring break for the KDE system monitor

May 4th, 2015

KSysGuard underperformes in both visual as well as functional respect. Unfortunately it is not actively maintained yet so we are looking for developers first before starting with ideas about the redesign.

Recently there was a request on the forums to update KSysGuard. The dialog looks outdated and not appealing, from the user perspective. From the usability POV there are several flaws too. First of all the dialog does not fit the HIG for simple command pattern. But even with some visual updates it might not fit the requirements. [Read on…]

Libreoffice Design Session: Inserting a Chart

April 17th, 2015

The Libreoffice UX team presents ideas for an updated workflow to insert charts. We show mockups how the dialog may look like and idea how to tweak your graph to perfection.

Probably everyone working with Libreoffice Calc is using charts. And maybe some wondered why the dialog to insert a chart has a wizard-like workflow for all the less relevant options. But inserting a chart is not only a task in Calc. You can add charts in any other tool. And then things really get messy…[Continue Reading…]

Libreoffice Design Session: Shapes

April 7th, 2015

The Libreoffice UX team presents two proposals on how to access shapes from the sidebar, with the goal to unify the look and feel of Libreoffice tools and to get more space for additional categories of shapes.

Libreoffice Draw was treated somewhat novercally in last time. But we didn’t forget it and started to pimp its look and feel. This design session was about moving the stencils from the shapes toolbar into the sidebar. And of course not only Libreoffice Draw benefits from this effort. [Continue Reading…]

Help to find better metaphors

March 27th, 2015

A big problem of KDE Activities is their name. It builds up a poor mental model and thus makes life hard for users. With this post we ask you to help us finding a better name for the underlying concepts.

When I talk to people about our quest to make KDE Activities work, one of the things I hear most often is: “I never really understood what they are!”. There are several reasons for that, a very obvious one is: They are buggy (e.g. concerning non KDE apps).

But by now I think an even bigger problem lies in an unfortunate choice of metaphors. Both, “Activities” and “Virtual Desktops” are actually not well suited on their own – and a mess, when combined together. [Continue reading…]

Libreoffice Design Session: Special Character

March 26th, 2015

The Libreoffice UX team presents two proposals for an improved dialog to insert special characters. While the first option was designed with a good balance between effort and benefit in mind, the second solution would be really awesome.

The Libreoffice UX team discussed possible improvements for the dialog to insert special characters, in particular the feature of recently used items. But today we have more than one solution since the current dialog would still be technology-driven instead of user-centric. [Read on…]

Libreoffice Design Session: CMIS Improvement

March 19th, 2015

The Libreoffice UX team presents a proposal for an improved integration of content management interoperability services (CMIS). It was the outcome of the second ‘design session’ that will be conducted regularly.

Topic of last week’s Libreoffice design session was the integration of content management interoperability services (CMIS). Here is the outcome of this meeting. [Read on…]