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Usability Problems With Unity

Posted 06-02-2011 at 11:35 AM by MTK358
Updated 06-02-2011 at 11:39 AM by MTK358

I think that the sidebar is really confusing. When you click on an icon, it launches the app. You click on it again, and it brings that app to the top. There's no obvious way to start another instance (you have to right-click). If there are multiple instances of an app open, you have to go through two steps to choose it: first click on the icon, then on the instance you want. Why combine the unrelated concepts of launching a process and window management?

Second, the way the menubar is now on top of the screen rather than in each application. Personally I find it confusing, but maybe it's becasue I'm not used to it. But it has two very, very serious flaws:

It shows the name of the currently active window. This is really confusing if there's a maximized window in the background and a smaller, active one selected, because the title of the active window looks like the title of the maximized window.

I like focus follows mouse (you don't have to click to select a window). The problem is that this makes it literally impossible (!) to use the menubar of an application that has a larger window behind it. Basically, when you move the mouse out of the application you're working on to get to the menubar, the mouse travels across another window to get there and the menubar changes to the one from the app you just moved the mouse over. Yes, it only happens when you change the default focus policy, but in my opinion it's still a fatal flaw.

And this is just a minor annoyance, some apps don't support the menubar in the top panel, and this is really inconsistent.

Third, the launcher "menu" (that takes up the whole screen) has no easy way to access favorite apps right away. You either have to use the keyboard or click and scroll through lots of menus and icons.

Finally, the workspace switcher isn't really obvoius, and for some reason you have to double-click to select a desktop.

I wonder what kind of "usability experts" designed this, and how many newbies will be put off from Linux by this?
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  1. Old Comment
    the workspace switcher isn't really obvoius, and for some reason you have to double-click to select a desktop.
    That's because that's how the Compiz "Expo" plugin works (the Unity interface is built on Compiz). It's nothing Unity-specific at all.

    TBH, Unity doesn't bother me too much. Granted, I don't really use Ubuntu on a regular basis (I just threw Natty in a VM for the hell of it to see what Unity was like ). The only thing that really bothers me is that it's a bit less-than-obvious to get to applications that aren't already in the main "sidebar" (as you mentioned in your third point).
    Posted 06-08-2011 at 01:10 PM by MrCode MrCode is offline


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