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What users like (according to User Observation)

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Fabiana Simoes, Cosimo Cecchi, Jasper St. Pierre, Federico Mena Quintero and Jan Holesovsky on Dave Richard’s presentation
Dave Richards next to one of the 800 thin clients that use OpenSUSE and Gnome
Jasper St. Pierre, Jan Holesovsky and Federico Mena Quintero

Notes group one

So here are the results according to notes group 1  on what Gnome users in Largo prefer:

  • People love MIME helpers
  • People seem to use workspaces in three ways: a) group applications by activity, b) separate applications, c) have additional space on screen
  • People like to have a way to clear stuff out of the way on screen
  • People like it when they can easily express what they’re looking for to a search feature
  • People like being confident that the search results are adequate to their query
  • People very often switch between different windows of the same application; they never use alt-tab, but they use in-app menus or (preferably) the context menu on the panel
  • Some users like to place windows side-by-side, either on the same or on different screens, to compare or transfer content
  • Users don’t maximize windows often
  • Users don’t generally read notifications or dialogs, but selectively read some they know being interesting to them
  • Notifications are generally either useless and stressful or very important
  • People like it when they learn to gather important information from visual clues on the screen, and will rely on it next time
  • Some users are mostly comfortable working with folder structures they made themselves recently. The comfort tends to decrease over time, as accumulating huge amounts of files, or when the folder structure is made, or significantly changed, by someone else
  • Some users prefer a flat list, so that they can see all the content available as an overview
  • Users enjoy having easy access to files from within applications they are working with
  • Users tend to categorize files, sometimes with folders, sometimes with a naming scheme
  • Users are stressed by identical or similar files in multiple copies and/or multiple locations
  • Users are stressed by the action of deleting files
  • Some users don’t understand software crashes, and an application crash is not different from it unexpectedly hiding
  • Crashing is not a huge problem for the user if he doesn’t lose data or state

Notes group two

The results according to notes group 2  on what Gnome users in Largo prefer:

  • People find it useful to place windows or data side-by-side so they can compare them; applications often don’t let them do that (windows are too wide to be fit side-by-side)
  • Data entry is slowed down by having to switch to each field with the mouse.  Terminal-based applications let you switch between fields with the keyboard, so people don’t lose their flow.
  • People like switching between windows with the bottom launcher bar.  They know that (right)-clicking on the application’s icon will give them a list of open windows for that app, and then they select the correct window.
  • People memorize or write down the “path” they need to follow to do something.  Our first user had a paper notebook with a note like, “Main menu; Expenditures Input; Add/Maintain invoices; Click Star (*); Add New; Posting date…”.
  • Not having a browser’s tabs in the normal window list is inconvenient; people would like to have them listed there.
  • People like creating bookmarks for the file system.
  • People seem to use Minimize and Close without distinction in the window manager.  The end result is “make the window disappear”.
  • People don’t like little inconsistencies with MS Office when they are invoking the same keyboard-based function.  Delete and Backspace in Calc should function just like in Excel.
  • People would like to be able to show what is on their screen to other people.  Relatedly, software that prevents two people from opening the same document or software at the same time is viewed as inconvenient.
  • People use printouts to show them to other people as a collaboration tool.
  • The entire payroll got printed (700 pages!) and reviewed by hand/eye, as opposed to having some automated verification tool.  The user preferred to visually scan large volumes of data on paper than on her screen.
  • People attain usage skills, and get disturbed when they are forced to change those skills because the software now operates differently.
  • Switching major pieces of software, like when legacy software is replaced, is very disturbing to people.
  • Some people actually know complete pathnames and type them in the right places (/users/largo/department_name).
  • Some file formats get opened incorrectly by the right application, e.g. a text file with fixed-width columns gets imported wrong in Calc.
  • People use paper notes to write down instruction
  • People use paper notes for to do lists
  • Some people would like to have a functionality in the spreadsheet that treats lines as records, like in a database, so that they can be checked for duplicates, or sorted keeping the record whole and not sort only one column.
  • Help system should have clickable entries, not static text such as PDF.
  • People like to use the desktop for documents frequently used
  • People like to keep links to frequently used program easily accessible (if they don’t fit in the bottom panel or if they do not know how to fit them)
  • People would like to have documents placed on the desktop easily accessible from other computers
  • Menu items should be coherent: names for operation, widgets should be the same commonly used (panel vs launcher)
  • People uses history or “recently used”  as one of the way to find documents
  • Email management some time require users to offload mails and attachments to the file system (to free email quota), and to make the documents accessible to other people in the future
  • Working place procedures may require users to make documents available to users in the future when the current employer may not be there anymore.
  • Co-workers may share document in a shared file system, and they may find difficult to find documents in other people organizations.
  • Some people are very fond of drag and drop.
  • A person missed a button on the Libre Calc toolbar to find duplicate and eliminate them
  • People do not like when they do a repetitive operation and a dialog box opens up everytime to request the same information (example copying and pasting from a browser inside a spreadsheet)
  • Some People try to fit in the email quota by eliminating emails from the “Sent” folders.
  • When printing, the printers available in an organization may be a lot and it is difficult for the user to select the ones closed by by looking at the list in the printer dialog. When selecting a printer, users often do not know which one to choose.

Admittedly, these are very interesting real-life use observation conclusions, that need to be deeply analyzed and considered to successfully address with small but important changes on 3.8.

What of these points match the reality of your every day use?


 
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  • renato

    In this kind of test there are a huge chance of ‘I only see what I want to see’. Since I started using computers I’ve observe that people always maximize the windows to do a prolongued work, they don’t maximize only when they will do a fast task like send an email. So, the point ‘Users don’t maximize windows often’ looks like a side effect of not having the maximize button.

    • ThatMattRogers

      personally, I’d be happy for all windows to start maximised, then for me to adjust them if i need them to be smaller for any reason. I will more commonly use the overlay to switch between maxed windows than arranging them in a pseudo-tiled manner, so it would actually speed up my workflow.

      but, taking your point, it would be interesting to do the same survey after imposing maximised windows as default behaviour for 6 months. I suspect the instances of people using them would greatly increase.

  • Philip Witte

    I think there needs to be a larger sample size… I do a few things all-the-time that are mentioned as being “never” done.

  • ThatMattRogers

    This will be a long post, but if you REALLY want me to respnd… here it is:

    I as a general rule Maximise applications (in fact I use “Maximus” to increase the useful space)
    I occasionally like to place windows side-by-side, either on the same or on different screens, to compare or transfer contentI am indifferent to having a way to clear stuff out of the way on screen (as a side point, what is the purpose of the desktop in Gnome Shell? it has no functionality. Surly the Activities Overview is the home state which EVERYONE has to go to first. So why don’t we start there?)I like it when I can easily express what they’re looking for to a search featureI like being confident that the search results are adequate to their queryI do not tend to use workspaces (the overview is more than sufficient for organising the number of windows I tend to have open)
    I like it when they learn to gather important information from visual clues on the screen, and will rely on it next timeI very often switch between different windows of the same application; I never use alt-tab,I use in-app menus or preferably the context menu on the panelI enjoy having easy access to files from within applications they are working withI tend to categorize files, sometimes with folders, sometimes with a naming schemeI am slightly stressed by identical or similar files in multiple copies and/or multiple locationsI am not stressed by the action of deleting filesCrashing is not a huge problem for me if I don’t lose data or state

  • ThatMattRogers

    I’m going to repost this though as it was hidden in that last thing that was ridiculous and long (sorry):

    What is the purpose of the desktop in Gnome Shell? it has no functionality. Surly the Activities Overview is the home state which EVERYONE has to go to first. So why don’t we start there?

    any thoughts?

    • ScionicSpectre

      There have been discussions about this- there is a design Whiteboard about ‘Getting Started’. https://live.gnome.org/GnomeOS/Design/Whiteboards/GettingStarted

      Of course, when you close all application windows on an additional workspace, you end up in the Overview, so I think there is something to say for this. It also follows the mantra of being ‘immediately useful’. However, one issue is that the first time someone uses this, they’ll assume this is how the desktop always is, and be deeply confused when everything suddenly disappears. Much better in that case to start off simple and clean and introduce them to overview functionality step by step.

      • ThatMattRogers

        I suppose my real question is “Why do we need an empty desktop at all?”

        Gnome Shell is very much like WebOS in many respects, but it hides key functionality at boot. There is technically an superfluous click (or keypress) that everyone has to do when they boot up to get to the overlay. I’m not suggesting that we should boot to the overlay then continue as we have been from there. I’m think I’m leaning toward something a little more radical. It may make more sense to default to the overlay when there are no windows open. this would actually make the overlay “how the desktop always is”.

        by default the desktop doesn’t do anything at all except show an empty screen, it has no functionality. No file manager, no right click, no gadgets, nothing. So it doesn’t really need to be there except as a space for application windows to exist in.

        I know that this could deepen people’s perception of GS as more of a tablet approach to computing but it would increase usability. If a click or mouse movement isn’t needed, then it probably shouldn’t be there.

        • kamilprusko

          Yes, that would be less confusing. To start with an empty desktop something like Dash-to-Dock would be preferable… btw. I’d love to be able to drag wallpaper to switch workspaces, there could be Alt + Ctrl + Mouse Drag to suplement workspace switching hotkeys. I don’t really need other functionality from my desktop/wallpaper.

      • ThatMattRogers

        On a usability front, once people have found the overlay, the thing that seems to confuse people is that it’s largely an empty screen from which they need to click again to access their applications. Then when it is time to switch between two applications it starts to become clear as they have seen that space become populated as they have opened each app. If the overview was the default desktop it seems to me that there would be less questions facing the user on first boot.

        • ThatMattRogers

          this was supposed to follow on from my last reply. oops.

  • 泰然 黃

    It’s a pain to switch between different widows in the same application in gnome shell. Most people don’t use alt-tab or alt-~.
    No wonder the survey showed that some people use workspace to separate application as a workaround. But this approach take manual efforts.

    Since most people like task-bars, Gnome team should serious consider to make this Dash to Dock extension default. The dock is not really a distraction at all.

  • sllih

    Summary:
    Task switching in GNOME Shell is broken.

    Here
    are observation about
    window switching:


    “People
    very often switch between different windows of the same application;
    they never use alt-tab, but they use in-app menus or (preferably) the
    context menu on the panel.”


    “People
    like switching between windows with the bottom launcher bar. They
    know that (right)-clicking on the application’s icon will give them
    a list of open windows for that app, and then they select the correct
    window.”

    “Not
    having a browser’s tabs in the normal window list is inconvenient;
    people would like to have them listed there.”

    First,
    I’m a GNOME 3 user from version 3.2 and I used to be a fan of that
    environment. Now my opinion is that switching
    between windows in GNOME Shell overview is useful for users that
    don’t understand taskbar/dock because of detachment from window
    context. Unfortunately,
    for the rest of us (average
    users)
    the
    overview
    and its animation is a bungling way for *fast* switching between
    windows and having a clear context of all activities on a taskbar.
    Besides,
    for
    *office users*, GNOME Shell needs to be document-centric and not
    application-centric. For
    these reasons, I don’t think that GNOME 3.6 is enterprise-ready,
    because it’s fundamental function (task switching) is not there yet.
    That’s very sad for me, a long standing GNOME user.

    • sllih

      (I reposted this comment because of strange line breaks. My apologies! To moderator: feel free to delete this one).

      • alex285

        New disqus doesn’t allow to edit other comments (or I cannot see that option)

  • sllih

    Summary: Task switching in GNOME Shell needs reworking.

    Here are observation about window switching:
    • “People very often switch between different windows of the same application; they never use alt-tab, but they use in-app menus or (preferably) the context menu on the panel.”
    • “People like switching between windows with the bottom launcher bar. They know that (right)-clicking on the application’s icon will give them a list of open windows for that app, and then they select the correct window.”
    • “Not having a browser’s tabs in the normal window list is inconvenient; people would like to have them listed there.”

    First, I’m a GNOME 3 user from version 3.2 and I used to be a fan of that environment. Now my opinion is that switching between windows in GNOME Shell overview is useful for users that don’t understand taskbar/dock because of detachment from window context. Unfortunately, for the rest of us (average users) the overview and its animation is a bungling way for *fast* switching between windows and having a clear context of all activities on a taskbar. Besides, for *office users*, GNOME Shell needs to be document-centric and not application-centric. For these reasons, I don’t think that GNOME 3.6 is enterprise-ready, because it’s fundamental function (task switching) is not there yet. That’s very sad for me, a long standing GNOME user.

    • Reiase

      I think task switching should be as lightweight as possible. I don’t use ALT+TAB, because I don’t know if the windows I want is already opened. I used to check the windows from taskbar and decide whether I need ALT+TAB or start a new window.

      The overview should be useful when transfer content from one window to another.

    • Philip Witte

      With Dash-to-Dock extension, Gnome-Shell is very ready for enterprise offices. I do agree that it should be built-in as default, though.

  • majiin

    Wow, just wow. Are you targetting 90 years old grampas or something? Don’t get me wrong, I wish you well. It’s just sad seeing that Gnome is flushing down the drain most of its users.

    • kamilprusko

      Maybe you will be able to recommend Gnome Shell and Linux to your parents :)

    • mlogger

      always funny to watch linux nerds that think they have a clue about UI design crash with reality of everyday computer users.

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