KDE Visual Design Group/HIG/Presentation/DesignVisionPrinciples

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Design Vision and Principles


Default Simplicity, Powerful Flexiblity


Vision leads design. We design principles to fulfill that vision. These principles guide all aspects of the user interface design. We encourage those that come to this site to look into the design vision and can guide their development by them. Our vision is one of unity and consolidation. A culture of facilitating the development of powerful applications that show consistency, elegance and strong capabilities, all in a shell that stays true to Plasma's vision for the desktop.

KDE Design:

  • Color: is meaningful and it emphasizes meaning.
  • Depth: Provides relevancy and organization.
  • Shapes: Convey information and solve questions.
  • Textures: Provide solidity and ground themselves in the real world.

Default simplicity and powerful flexibility are the two main focuses of KDE software design. This vision holds true throughout all of the iterations and new versions of KDE. We explain these guidelines more in detail below.

Default Simplicity

Simple and inviting. KDE software is pleasant to experience and easy to use. Our software resorts to basic configurations that fit the majority of people and seeks to reduce visual clutter. Simplicity also invites developers to look for reduced alternatives when options abound.

  • Easy focus on what matters - When designing your applications, determine which is your main task and then remove or minimize elements not crucial to the primary task. Use spacing to keep things organized. Use color to draw attention. Leave advanced, secondary or tertiary functions for a secondary menu while placing the most important functions first.
  • Familiarity - Make things easier to learn by reusing design patterns from other applications the replicate the design. This helps keep consistency among applications while also helping to make the learning curve shorter.
  • Do the heavy lifting for me - Make complex tasks simple. Make novices feel like experts. Create ways in which your users can naturally feel empowered by your software. Ensure that controls are powerfully packed instead of pieced up in many smaller controls. This way, you will see that users tend to easily remember options while spending little time achieving a complex operation.

Powerful Flexibility

Power and flexibility. KDE software allows users to be effortlessly creative and efficiently productive. It allows designers and developers to seek strong conventions as they develop new features and technologies. KDE software is flexible and adaptable. If the principle of simplicity does not fit, then we resort to the flexibility design idea. This means that KDE software can adapt to each circumstance and is able to enable more powerful features if it is so demanded by our users. Powerful flexibility brings more options when working with software.

  • Solve a problem - Identify and make clear to the user what need is addressed and how. Ask yourself, "What justifies the creation of this application?", "What am I trying to answer, address, or solve by making my application in one way or another?".
  • Always in control - It should always be clear what can be done, what is happening and what happened. The user should never feel at the mercy of the tool. Give the user the final say. This means that users should be provided powerful and flexible tools to accomplish a task. Being transparent with the tool and what it can do helps users feel like the software was built with them in mind. Whenever possible, look for feedback.
  • Be flexible - Allow simplicity to be first in your applications. However, when simple controls or processes are not enough, KDE design allows you to override this guideline. Consider optional functionality or customizations that do not interfere with the primary task. Hierarchically organize your main tasks from most important down. That way you will know when to place a control in a certain location versus another.

Elements of these guidelines have been adapted, per license, from Android Design.

This page was last modified on 25 February 2018, at 05:18. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.