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Category-based app browsing, was Re: Some impressions about the current status of Unity


On 02/25/2012 07:58 PM, Ian Santopietro wrote:
Directory based navigation is a bad concept for modern computing. Not
even Windows is holding on to that in Windows 8. Users don't care about
folders or files. They only want to interact with data.

Segmenting data into chunks helps tremendously in dealing with it. A relation between a number of items, like their membership in a certain set, is data, too.

Search-based access breaks down, if you have only a vague concept of what you are looking for and of what is actually available. It is not a good strategy for building an overview, to access the big picture.

Browsing and searching are 2 approaches that both have their values and drawbacks. Often best to have both.

Large numbers of items need to be organized to become browseable. Be that directories, categories or sets, trees, graphs ...

The scenario Adrian touches upon can be summed up as "I want to play – what games are available on the spot?". Understanding 'Games' as category is easy, if that label appears on screen.

Another scenario that suggests a need for straightforward category-based browsing: "I vaguely recall that I installed some image-manipulation utility, but do not recall the name – lets look among apps in 'Graphics'"

Categories can help with step by step narrowing down choices, changing something like a 1 out of 50 selection into a 1 out of 5 followed by 1 out of 10 selection.

The number of clicks in this case is completely irrelevant. If the user
is in a hurry, they will know what they want and use search or a
launcher shortcut. If they want to browse through the applications
installed, then the number of clicks doesn't matter. They aren't in a
hurry to get work done, and individual clicks aren't hard or time
consuming in this scenario.

It always matters if the interface feels efficient and supportive, or needlessly complicated.

Each added step reduces the likelihood that a user becomes aware and sure of the functionality and completes the task. Setting a "Filter" does not fit well into a browsing approach.

If a user is looking for an application that is not on the Launcher and not among the most recent used of the first Dash page, the probability that they don't know or have forgotten details like the exact name increases.

Thorsten Wilms

thorwil's design for free software:

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