Re: [Usability]widget style vs window decoration, (was "cheat to window-manager integration")

(regarding the word "widget")

I guess I already knew what you would answer to this, but I want to
hear from some other people as well.

Christian Rose <menthos menthos com> writes:
> We are not here to educate people,

That's a start of a long argument, but I'll agree that there will be
some users who care not for understanding their UI but just want to
get their job done.

But love for a UI is deeply connected with an understanding of it.

We're definitely not here to deliberately make it *harder* for people
to learn, to prevent their education.

> we are here to present people with a usable desktop, and preferrably
> regardless of their previous familiarity with certain design
> terminology.

Yes. This does not mean that we have to go to extreme lengths to dumb
things down, however.

GUI's work with elements like windows, icons, a pointer - and
widgets. While having words for the elements on screen is not
*necessary* for using the GUI (see that "hole in the wall" article for
a counter-example, if that one's true) I think that it can certainly
clear up the thought process for the part of the population who's got
a "wordbased" mind.

"Widget"'s not the most extreme jargonny word ever. You kind of make
it sound like I wanted the entire C code flashed in users faces when
ever they clicked the mouse.

> Not all people are of the kind "oh here is something that I'm not
> familiar with, let's see what it does" but rather "oh here is something
> that I'm not familiar with, better not touch that".

Good! People unfamiliar with widgets *should* stick with the default
widgets and not touch that dialog - or they could choose to become
familiar with widgets. Depending on who they are, how their minds

People wishing to change the appearance of widgets will pretty quickly
find out what widgets are.

"I want to change the appearance of the UI. Hmm, open the preferences,
of course. Where's appearance? Ah, there. Window decoration appearance
- I'll select this orange one, 'Orange Juice', that looks
great. Widget Appearance - ah, so *that's* what those thingamajigs are

[...and I was always rather ticked with Gnome for it not letting me
select colors by other means than editing gtkrc, by the way.]

> In that respect, presenting the user with strange terminology is
> something that should be *avoided* rather than enouraged.

Having two conflicting sets of terminology is what should be
avoided. Consistency might be "the hobgoblin of small minds" to
Emerson, but it is one of the golden ideals for UI designers.

Clarity is better than vagueness. Strange words are fit for strange

If you meet me in the street and ask for directions to some
"water-dropping-thing" I might point you to the nearest kitchen tap
when you really wanted to go sightseeing at the scenic waterfall.

I was very happy with your choice of word, "swap space", when I saw
that, I went "oh, of course, why didn't I think of that". Clear,
obvious, a bit jargonny but that's necessary. A weird, contrived
wording like "memory that's not the usual memory" wouldn't make many
people happy.

If I saw "window insides" I'd go "Huh? Is that like the inner border
of the wm or something like that?" If I see "widget appearance" I know
immediately what that is. Not everyone is me, but not everyone is you


However, for a solution that doesn't require the word "widget" to

I liked the appearance dialog of Windows 95, similar to the one in win

For those who don't remember (or maybe it's still the same), it had a
picture of how it would look after clicking "ok", and a dropdown list
of readymade themes. Selecting one of these would change the picture
to show the GUI with that theme. However, here's the cool part: the
picture was interactive, you could change the appearence, font or
color of that widget. For the widgets that weren't in the picture,
there was another dropdown box. There was also a "save" button that
prompted for a theme name, and it would be saved, and findable among
the list of shipped themes.

This could be improved by having a "select pixmap"-button available
for those widgets or window decorations that were pixmap based. Just
click on a pixmap to be able to change it.

Easy to work with, easy to learn. (Hard to code.)

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]