Glaringly obvious usability omissions

SuSE actually has a usability dpt, and yet some obvious things are slipped through and never get fixed. Check this SuSE 10.3 screenshot and look at its “start” menu. The headers “Favorite applications and “Recent applications” are not bold and they have no soft background color behind them, making it extremely difficult for the eye and brain to figure out what is what quickly enough. The brain has to spend extra calories to work on that menu. That portion of the screen just looks a mashup of text rather than distinguishable items.

Same goes for the Gnome Control Center which I filed a bug report about it a year ago, and it hasn’t been fixed either. And we are talking about a 2 minute fix that would really help out usability. A fix that it’s so glaring obvious to me…

Update: Here’s my take on SuSE’s start menu. To me, this looks much easier to digest and sort out in my brain. Update 2: Mockup updated.

10 Comments »

Alessandro wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 5:08 PM PST:

that would definitely be nice, and I’d like to see it implemented. But actually I think it’s not that bad: the default menu is almost empty (4 apps maybe? and no recent apps). When a user click for the first time on a non-fav app, it shows later under the new label, distant enough to realize that it’s a separate group. For what concern the control-center, i totally agree with you (maybe Novell developers are just cheking their own bugzilla?)


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 5:26 PM PST:

It would be nicer if you linked to my post instead of just my screenshot. If I hadn’t looked at my incoming links (vs trackbacks to the post itself, which would allow some form of context/connection between our posts), I never would have noticed your ranting on this and would not have been able to offer some different perspective/context.

As I mentioned in my reply to your comment, again, on my post, the issue is most likely a problem the the *theme* (and if you had also referenced the post, again, you may have indirectly informed you readers that I was using a custom theme). The main menu itself is in all likelihood not the culprit here as most of its elements can be themed through GTK.

In SLED at least I remember the font sizes of the elements in question being bold and larger.

Calm down. At the core, this is a usability issue, from the perspective of my screenshot, but please be careful when pointing the finger so quickly.


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 5:28 PM PST:

Also, it’s openSUSE, not SuSE. We did technically change the name/casing, etc. a couple of years ago. JFYI.


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 5:29 PM PST:

Apologies for the third comment, but I just wanted to say that I do like the idea of the user photo/login information in the top right. I will bring this up with the main menu maintainer.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 5:39 PM PST:

I now link to your post. Also, I don’t think it’s the theme’s issue, but a real usability issue (please upload a new shot with the DEFAULT theme). I filed a bug report about a similar thing on Novell’s bugzilla over a year ago, no one followed up. Same on gnome’s bugzilla, no one followed up.

As for the actual name of SuSE these days, I don’t really care (although of course I am aware of it). I just call it SuSE, just like I call GNU/Linux as Linux and Windows XP as WinXP.


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 24th, 2007 at 6:31 PM PST:

Fine. Just pointing it out. The difference is that there is no product or organization called GNU/Linux. openSUSE is actually a real product, a community, a brand. SuSE used to be. It is not any more, hence my correction.

I will take a new screenshot tomorrow and link to it here.


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 25th, 2007 at 2:32 PM PST:

Eugenia: This is indeed a theme issue, but it was broken in the old Gilouche theme. I have fixed Gilouche and committed it upstream. We will do our best to slip a new release in for 10.3 before the final release, but it is very, very late in the process. If we can’t slip it in, we will ship it as an update shortly after the release.

Here’s how the Main Menu looks with the fixed Gilouche theme.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 25th, 2007 at 2:38 PM PST:

Aaron, this only fixes the bold font issue. It is still difficult to distinguish quickly what is what in that window. For example, originally I did not immediately figure out that the Apps/docs/places buttons change the apps view below them! They felt that they were SEARCH’s attributes! If it wasn’t for my husband to point that out, I would not have figure it out just by looking at the pic. They are just disjoined.

Please check my updated mockup.


Aaron Bockover wrote on September 25th, 2007 at 4:11 PM PST:

I’m sorry I can’t please you. I did what I could immediately to resolve the biggest issue. I’ll direct the proper maintainers to your mockups and observations.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 25th, 2007 at 6:11 PM PST:

Please me? That’d be hard. 😉


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