[Usability] Control Center Appearance Capplet

I'm currently looking at integrating the various appearance settings throughout GNOME into a single "Appearance Settings" application for the control center.

I have made some mockups, which can be seen here:

We've discussed these on the control center mailing list[1] and I would like to discuss some of the issues raised here as well.

Themes Tab

The themes tab provides a way of saving and apply a particular group of appearance settings. This means it will change the settings on other tabs, and this is contrary to advice in the HIG. However, I am not sure if the advice in the HIG applies to this, as it is (or should be) fairly obvious that changing to a different theme will affect options not shown on the current tab.

Close Button

As you can see, there is no separate close button on this window other than in the title bar. I know this has been discussed before, but would it be impossible to require "GNOME Compliant" window managers to include a close button. My main reason for removing it is because of the Novel usability studies that showed[2] several people did not understand that the window was instant apply. I think the presence of a dialog-style button bar suggests that the window is asking the user for some action, when in fact this is not the case.

Dialog Window

Related to the above, I have also not set this window to be a dialog window. The window is not asking for any confirmation or action from the user, so I think it ought to be a "normal" window. We also had several bug reports[3] requesting that the previous theme capplet have maximise buttons because in contained a scrollable window. Metacity (quite reasonably) does not allow maximise buttons on dialogs, so it had to be changed to a normal window.

Undo and Redo

There has been some suggestion on the control center list that we might like to include Undo/Redo or Revert buttons in the capplets[4], It would be useful to get some input into the usability/accessibility implications of such a feature.

Preference Windows

It would be useful to clarify the above points with regards to "Preference Windows" in the HIG. The HIG specifies that preference windows should be instant apply, but does not specify a particular layout to deal with this idiom. Looking at any other operating systems where instant apply is often used (primarily Mac OS X), it seems that most preference windows do not have any Close button other than that provided by the title bar.

Of course, any other comments and suggestions are welcome as well.



[1] http://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnomecc-list/2007-April/msg00000.html
[2] http://www.betterdesktop.org/wiki/index.php?title=Data
[3] http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=331835
[4] http://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnomecc-list/2007-April/msg00011.html

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