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[Design Project] Top-level System Settings Interface

User avatar Heiko Tietze
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Disclaimer: Since this thread goes very fast into detail but is just a proposal, this first posting might be updated in future to reflect the consensus.

As promised in the blog post about the results of the card sorting I'd like to share some ideas with you how the system settings could look like in future.

Objectives, just to recapitulate our goals [1, 2]:
1. Consistency ("Making sure that all settings use the same sort of thing to set similar things".)
2. Ease of use ("Working on new layouts for the settings - making them simpler, easier and more human without removing flexibility.")

Terminology as used in the following is:
a) topic (top level items, i.e. Appearance, Workspace, Hardware etc.),
b) category (all stuff that belong to a topic, actually the links in the present system settings),
c) section (organization within categories, e.g. Password as part of the category Account Details below the topic Personalization), and
d) properties (all information that can be changed)
KCM: A particular configuration module that could be run outside the system settings as well.

Image
* Do not extend system settings by another topic.
* Show only the non-expert categories below a topic.
* Do not use icons for categories in order to de-clutter the view.
* Open the topic on click at a link with the selected page.

Image
* Show all non-expert categories of the topic in the left-hand accordion navigation.
* Accordion panes must not be empty, i.e. always have at least 2 sections in a category.
* Accordion panes must not need scrolling i.e. always have a maximum of 7 sections in a category.
* Limit the shown categories to the most frequently used but apply a simple method to show all items.
* Keep KCM as simple as possible.
* Provide the 'Apply'-feature to all KCM.

Image
* In advance mode, show all categories and all sections in the accordion navigation, as well the expert stuff.
* Consider to add "See as well" links to relevant pages out of the current topic.
* Use tabs to show multiple properties pages.
* Always provide a simple 'General' page for multiple properties pages with the option to set all subsidiary information at once. (E.g. Martin'c choice, Minimalistic, etc.).

Remarks: The effects might change completely with Plasma Next. The function to switch into the 'Advanced mode' (actually the button is a bad solution) needs an option to go back. The small icon is a bad choice too.

Last edited by Heiko Tietze on Sat May 10, 2014 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar colomar
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We've already talked about this, so you know I like the general idea!
Two tthings we might want to think about as well:
  1. What about basic vs. advanced settings within a single KCM? Or would advanced stuff always go into a separate KCM?
  2. Shouldn't the "See as well" be visible in the basic mode, too, given that it's probably at least as helpful for "regular users" as it is for "advanced users" (damn, we need to settle on personas so we can put names there!)?
Sogatori
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Oh Heiko, you were faster than me again :D.

I will share my thoughts on the proposal later, I just wanted to ask you if you could repost your idea as a comment again. The thread is still young and I think the first post should be reserved for the idea that actually makes it through, some sort of summary. That way one can just open the thread and look at the first post instead of having to read the whole thread. :)
User avatar ken300
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Heiko Tietze,

Just my opinion - i think that the "See as well" on your bottom mockup is a very, very good idea!
User avatar alake
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Sorry, I didn't get here in time before this got too far.

We've enlisted anditosan's help to come up with a candidate design for the top level system settings interface. He'll come up with a candidate design which he'll use to run a community design cycle like we did for the UI controls. Of course he'll take any ideas discussed here into consideration for the design so don't stop sharing here.

These are great ideas by the way!! :-D
User avatar ken300
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anditosan,

the one thing that I personally think would make System settings much more usable is to improve the search function - at least so that it makes the irrelevant modules disappear rather than just greying them out like it does now. Maybe making the search box very prominent (quite big & in the middle of the window?) & focused as soon as you enter the page would be good too.

If the design you put forward is anything like the mockups in the other System settings thread then we're in safe hands!
User avatar Heiko Tietze
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alake wrote:...anditosan's ...'ll come up with a candidate design...

Great. We have some idea in the former king-sized thread which could be discussed as well. If we get some well elaborated but competing ideas we have a perfect AB design for a user study.

colomar wrote:
  1. What about basic vs. advanced settings within a single KCM? Or would advanced stuff always go into a separate KCM?
  2. Shouldn't the "See as well" be visible in the basic mode, too...

a) A singular KCM does not have modes, those are related to the navigation only. But I'd recommend to have the 'simple general page' as well at the standalone KCMs.
b) Yes, of course. If we find a nice visual solution that does not lead to clutter in the simple mode (as it looks to me in my mockups). And to take one step back, given that Penny (yes, Persona!) wants to change her password, is she really curious about web shortcuts? (most likely you will find an example that fits better your idea o) )
User avatar colomar
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Heiko Tietze wrote:a) A singular KCM does not have modes, those are related to the navigation only. But I'd recommend to have the 'simple general page' as well at the standalone KCMs.


So the general page is supposed to contain the most basic settings from all KCMs in that category?

b) Yes, of course. If we find a nice visual solution that does not lead to clutter in the simple mode (as it looks to me in my mockups). And to take one step back, given that Penny (yes, Persona!) wants to change her password, is she really curious about web shortcuts? (most likely you will find an example that fits better your idea o) )


Penny is a Solid persona (one which I do not like because she's too much of a stereotype for my taste), KDE 4 in general had these: http://techbase.kde.org/Projects/Usability/Principles/KDE4_Personas.
To use these: I don't think Philip is more likely to want to change web shortcuts when he is configuring his password than Berna is. I think the cross-links will actually be more helpful to Berna, because she may be less confident in finding things herself and therefore be more thankful for hints the system offers her.
User avatar Heiko Tietze
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colomar wrote:So the general page is supposed to contain the most basic settings from all KCMs in that category?

Depending on the KCM. For instance, I have no idea how to generalize Account Details... But in case of more than one tab it is quite likely that some setting could be integrated into the newly introduced set with predefinitions.
Sogatori
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So finally I have to time to chime in here, too. So exciting :D

Start Page
I'm a bit conflicted here. On the one hand I like the clean looks of it, on the other I think it's terrible trying to mimic Window's System Settings here. For me it mostly comes down to using "links" to represent the available categories. I at least associate links with "the very bottom" of a hierarchy. Maybe it's just me being weird, but when I read the title of a link in Windows' System Settings and it doesn't fit exactly what I'm searching for then I come to the conclusion "It probably isn't there", and give up (Maybe I also stems from my experience that Windows' SySe doesn't seem to have any organization what so ever).
Maybe that's something to take into account here, maybe I'm just weird.

Also, spreading the name of categories over two lines should not be allowed. I for one get regularly confused by this in Windows.

Navigation
I really like the idea of "See also", however, I agree with the other that this should be shown all the time and not only in "Advanced" mode.
About "Advanced" mode in general … I know I originally started the whole "Accordion drama" and I feel bad for writing this now, but I'm not sure if it's the (sole) way to go here. My problem with it is not that it's bad, but that it doesn't do much about the "experienced/inexperienced" use-case clash. An experienced user will most like love to toggle the "advanced mode" globally, while it's probably the best to have an in-category/-section switch.

Personally, I'm more a fan of the way the "sidebar" in Windows' Modern UI System Settings works. No, calm down … just breath steady and slowly. I'm not trying to turn KDE into a mobile UI :).
However, I like how it separates the different levels of the hierarchy. The downside is that the user can't change to another category as easy as with the accordion. I however like that we could add an "Advanced" item to the list view, which then expands the list with more options, and kill off tabs - consolidate the navigation.
A bit like this
Code: Select all
← Workspace

Window Behaviour
Activities
Notifications
Shortcuts
---------------------------------------------
← Window Behaviour   |← Window Behaviour
                     |
Desktop effects      |Desktop Effects
Screen Edges         |Screen Edges
Launch Feedback      |Launch Feedback
[Advanced]           |Task Switcher
                     |Kwin Scripts
                     |Window rules
                     |[Less]

----------------------------------------------
←Desktop Effects     |←Desktop Effects
                     |
General              |General
[Advanced]           |All Effects
                     |Advanced
                     |[Less]


Search
Another thing we haven't looked at at all yet is search. I think that Search should be always available, as opposed to right now, where the search field vanished as soon as a KCM is selected.
Also, can't we make some semantic search magic happen to improve the search overall? Right now the search feature in SySe is really lacking when it comes to usefulness.
User avatar Heiko Tietze
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Sogatori wrote:Personally, I'm more a fan of the way the "sidebar" in Windows' Modern UI System Settings works.

Isn't the metro sidebar some static panel that can be shown per swipe? I don't understand how you want to integrate the additional organization (all categories of a topic). An idea would be to apply it per dropdown instead of the accordion. About tabs: It will be necessary to have another structure within KCMs. Just think of it as standalone configuration. All other arguments get thumbs up from me.
Sogatori
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Heiko Tietze wrote:
Sogatori wrote:Personally, I'm more a fan of the way the "sidebar" in Windows' Modern UI System Settings works.

Isn't the metro sidebar some static panel that can be shown per swipe? I don't understand how you want to integrate the additional organization (all categories of a topic). An idea would be to apply it per dropdown instead of the accordion. About tabs: It will be necessary to have another structure within KCMs. Just think of it as standalone configuration. All other arguments get thumbs up from me.

Hmm, it is a static pannel AFAIK, but it's not shown after a swipe (I don't know, really. I use it on a desktop.) For reference I mean the thing on the left. The "PC Settings" basically.

Could you specify your problem with the organization model? I'm myself a bit clueless what you mean ??? :D. I thought like the first part of the example code, thingy.
Code: Select all
← Workspace

Window Behaviour
Activities
Notifications
Shortcuts

Maybe I can't see the forest for the trees right now. :)

About the tabs. I feared so :(. But then, the tabs would be hidden in "no0b" mode any way, right? Maybe we could find a way to access these settings through the SySe UI, but hide the tabs when the KCM is called by the SySe UI, or negatively: Only show the tabs when the KCM is started as a stand alone application. I hope that makes sense. That would only be a sensible way when it doesn't introduce too much maintenance cost, of course.
User avatar Heiko Tietze
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Sogatori wrote:Could you specify your problem with the organization model?

In short: Topic (Appearance, Workspace, Hardware...) > Category (Window Behavior, Activities...) > Section (Desktop effects, Screen Edges...) > Features, only in case of multiple property pages () > Properties ('Enable effect xy'...)

Advanced mode was meant for just the navigation. To make the KCM itself easy to use, I propose to add a simple start page which provides an overall selection like themes. But of course, we could use an advanced switch there too that shows all the hidden tabs.

About the metro side bar: It is just a different look and feel, or not?

Sorry for the scant reply, I'm in a hurry.
Sogatori
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Heiko Tietze wrote:In short: Topic (Appearance, Workspace, Hardware...) > Category (Window Behavior, Activities...) > Section (Desktop effects, Screen Edges...) > Features, only in case of multiple property pages () > Properties ('Enable effect xy'...)

Pardon my stupidity, but I still don't get it :(.
About the metro side bar: It is just a different look and feel, or not?

It works differently than an accordion, and also looks different. I will try to make some screen shots in future, because I couldn't find good ones on the interwebs.
User avatar Heiko Tietze
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Sogatori wrote:Pardon my stupidity, but I still don't get it :(.

Simple answer: We have one level more to organize.

Reason is that a) the main SySe screen is cluttered, and b) modules are not clearly separated. The idea (at least what I understood from the first thread) was to move parts of the main screen into the modules (a standalone KCM wouldn't have this 'neighborhood'). Before, we had two to three hierarchical levels: The categories, then modules or module groups, whereas categories were only shown on the overview. The proposed new hierarchy has one additional level.

Sorry for my lack of English knowledge. Please keep on asking to make things clear.

 
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