Launching an application requires too many mouse clicks in Gnome 3

I've been using Gnome 3 for some months, and overall I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. However, as a long time Gnome 1&2 user, I find it lacking in some aspects in terms of usability and features.

Most of all, I think Gnome 3 requires too much user interaction when navigating in the program menu. In the days of global application menu, when you need to launch an application all you need to do was 1) click on the panel menu icon, 2) and navigate by hovering your mouse over the categories, 3) then click on the application. All it needed was 2 clicks and minimal mouse movement.

However in Gnome 3, you need first 1) move your mouse to the upper left corner of the screen, 2) and click on the programs menu, 3) wait couple of seconds (especially when you click it for the first time), 4) move your mouse to the opposite end of the screen to click through the application categories, 5) and again move your mouse pointer to where the application is, 6) and finally click on the icon to launch it.

In summary, now it requires 3 + number of categories clicks and much more mouse traversal to lauch an application, which I feel a setback in terms of user experience compared to Gnome 1&2.

I believe the situation would be much better if we could make the categories traversable by mouse hover instead of clicks, and move the category menu to the left side to make it close to the hot spot on the upper left corner of the screen. And it'd reduce the unnecessary delay if it displays selected few favorite, or most often used applications instead of showing all of them when you click on the program menu. I guess even providing an alternative hot spot, say lower left corner of the screen to access the program menu directly would make it on par with Gnome 2 in terms of mouse clicks needed for an application launch.

I suppose the direction Gnome 3 is moving toward is providing a simple, unified desktop environment for variety of devices, including tablets and even smart phones. However, I believe simplicity in software doesn't always lies in 'eliminating' features, but usually in intuitive design and 'hiding' advanced features.

Suppose, there's some basic tasks which most of the users performs often - like launching an application from program menu - consists roughly 30% of all desktop features. And there's features which more advanced users need or which are not used frequently, like customizing desktop fonts, would consists another 30% of the features. And finally there's remaining 40% of the features which would rarely be accessed or by expert users or developers.

Then you need to make those basic 30% of features readily accessible - no keyboard short cuts, no redundant mouse clicks) in a most intuitive and simple way. And you can still expose the advanced 30% of features accessible from GUI, but hidden from casual users, preferably by providing 'advanced' button like many applications do.

For the remaining expert features, I guess executing terminal commands or changing gconf values to access them shouldn't be much problem.

So, I'd like to suggest we should collect and priotize all the planned or implemented features in Gnome 3 according to a criteria similar to the above mentioned, then re-evaluate their accessibility and usability according to their nature. So if there's some basic tasks like accessing an application menu requiring too much mouse interaction, or some non expert features like chaging desktop fonts missing from the control panel, we could easily detect such problem and fix it in a consistent way if there's such a design principle understood and agreed upon among the most developers and users.

I guess Gnome desktop has come a long way, and now it's not uncommon to see non tech-savy people use it as their primary work environment. So, it's all about user experience and usability which really matters and would put Gnome ahead of other competitors.

Xavier Cho

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