I am still working on our next-gen desktop server and have been thinking about problems areas, based on observations and reviewing the support desk calls for the last few years. I'm trying new ideas on the following improvement areas:
- Many users never right-mouse click, ever. They do not understand contextual menus, and their workflow is 1, then 2, then 3. This is similar to old character based software. This doesn't seem to be based on age of employees, it's just how they think and work on computers.
- Most users have no idea about file types, file extensions, where things are saved, and what to name files. They want to click and tell the computer *what* they want to do, versus understanding the steps to make that happen.
- Users butcher file badly, and for instance save documents called David.odt and david.odt in the same directory, which often leads to problems for them later.
- Users do not use option menus well, and program names in applications like Evolution are of no use. GIMP does what? EOG does what? They know OpenOffice, but mostly they want to see words like "Edit", "Save" and "View" versus program names.
- Users do not understand applications like gnome-screenshot. That program has been ineffective because once the dialog comes up, they don't know what to do with the window. Sometimes they want to save it, but they don't know where the file is being saved. Sometimes they want to email it out immediately; but they don't know how to do that with the current UI. And it saves in PNG format, which people not on Linux sometimes cannot open.
So what I am testing, (with positive feedback from our beta group) is MIME application tile bars that I wrote with python/Glade. The bars come up for Pictures, Documents, Acrobat, Video and Audio files with unique options for each. For instance the Picture Bar has replaced gnome-screenshot/PrintScrn, and also comes up when you double-click on photos in Nautilus and when you receive pictures in Evolution. A consistent interface is provided in all interactions with pictures. The tiles then tell them exactly what will happen to the picture, without further skills.
I know this makes advanced users cringe, but I haven't removed their ability to manaually save files and move them around. At the most, it's one more click for them.
Here are shots of what I am testing.
[ Bar launches when you double-click on photo from Nautilus ]
[ When attaching to Evolution, all formats are converted to .JPG. They can still manually drop-drag from nautilus if their skills are more advanced and they understand file formats ]
[ Same bar launches from Evolution on picture attachments]
[ Same bar comes up as drop in replacement for gnome-screenshot ]
[ Documents bar, opens when double-click on OOo and MS Office files ]