Re: [HIG] Decision: instant apply window buttons

Hi Seth,

I think it's great that you based this decision on user testing
data. I am also somewhat disappointed that many subsequent posters on
this thread ignored your user testing and claimed lack of a close
button would confuse Windows users, when your tests seem to show this
is not the case.

On the other hand, two of your test subjects did experience minor
temporary confusion. And I doubt anyone would be confused by the
presence of a close button, even if it were strictly speaking

So maybe it's OK to go the other way on this, so long as we pick one
approach and stick to it.

As for the general issue of trying to be like Windows - I think there
is actually some virtue in being intentionally different. Many GNOME
users probably choose it in part because it _is_ different from
Windows. Similarly, I think many Mac users choose the Mac because it's

The only kinds of differences that _really_ drive me nuts switching
back and forth between GNOME and Mac OS X are the differences in
behavior which are not immediately visible. For instance, the OS X
dock has launch-once-then-raise-window semantics, compared to the
GNOME panel's "launch on each click". But visible things like presence
or absence of buttons - I never even noticed.

 - Maciej

P.S. As for Tog - do you really want to listen to a man who thinks
that 1 is a prime?

On 20Jan2002 05:20PM (-0800), Seth Nickell wrote:
> Participants:
>   6 windows users, 1 CDE/windows user
>   All seven subjects reported having little or no experience with MacOS
>   (it was difficult to find any Unix users who did not also have
> significant experience using MacOS)
> Actual objective:
>   Determine if instant apply "dialogs" without button cause problems for
> users who are not experienced with them. The MacOS control panels were
> chosen as the test material because they represent a fairly easy to use
> instance of instant apply preferences.
> Given objective:
>   4 subjects were asked to change the background.
>   3 subjects were asked to change the mouse speed.
>   Subjects were asked to "think outloud".
> Test observations:
> 5 out of 7 subjects did not find the control panels within a minute.
> They were prompted and shown the control panel submenu under the apple
> menu.
> Once shown the control panel submenu, all 3 "mouse people" found the
> mouse settings page without problems. 2 out of 4 "background people"
> were prompted to go to "Appearance" after they had difficulty figuring
> out which control panel the background was set from.
> Once in the dialog, no "mouse people" and no "background people" had
> difficulty accomlishing their objective.
> Subjects were then instructed to "Run Microsoft Word"
> 3 subjects promptly closed the dialog using the "window manager" buttons
> and went to find Microsoft Word. 
> The other 4 subjects asked if they should close the dialog first. They
> were told "Yes". 2 of these subjects proceded to close the dialog using
> the "window manager" buttons. 
> The 2 other subjects appeared to have difficulty closing the window. One
> commented "there's no OK button on this". Both subjects did decide
> within 10 seconds to close the window using the "window manager"
> buttons, however both took a while to figure out which button was
> "close". Both subjects felt unsure but eventually chose to click on the
> correct button in the window titlebar.
> Post session debriefing:
> When prompted, two subjects (one of which also said "there's no OK
> button on this" during the actual test) commented on lack of buttons in
> the dialog. Neither had serious problems choosing to use the "window
> manager" controls instead though. The other five said they hadn't really
> noticed.
> Both subjects who had difficulty closing the window mentioned that they
> were looking for an "X" button.
> Conclusion:
> 5 out of 7 users had no problems operating a buttonless instant apply
> dialog. The other 2 users only experienced diffulty because they did not
> recognize MacOS' close button. Although it took them longer both of
> these users eventually guessed the right button.
> My conclusion from this is that its not a learning problem, that people
> pick up on it very quickly, and most people don't even notice.
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> Hig gnome org

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