Ben is designing a new preferences window for Firefox. This is a great idea – the current pref window, while a vast improvement on the Mozilla/Netscape 4.x style, is still a little hard to get to grips with. As he doesn’t have comments on his blog, I have to trackback to give UI feedback, so here it is:
- The old pref window has the high-level selector down the side. The new one has moved it to the top, which is more reminiscent of tabs, but the styling is still not tab-like. If you are going to change the orientation, why not go the whole hog and take advantage of the user familiarity with tabs by styling them appropriately? They can still be big, square and iconic – I’m not suggesting going back to just text.
- I initially thought that the “Sanitise Settings” button was a command – it sanitised your settings, in other words it emptied your cache and history and so on.
- A recent trend has been to reduce the number of top-level categories, perhaps to reduce the perceived complexity of the interface. However, this has just pushed the complexity down into the panels themselves, so each panel has sub-selectors of different types. In the screenshot, you have the sub-selector down the left as one type, and then View Cookies, Exceptions and Sanitise Settings presumably either change the pane or pop up another window – these are therefore another type. I’m not convinced that complexity has actually been reduced by this trend. We might produce a more understandable UI by reducing the pressure on the high-level category count.