Part 2 - 1/3
Design Overview

Design Overview

At first I spend time just to find out what I see in the Ubuntu desktop. Then, how it developed over the last years. After that I had a look at a lot of other desktops and distributions, in perspective of my workflow. 

  • What is the way I work?
  • How is the understanding of the end-user to a lot of tasks?
  • What is a logical and understandable way to define a desktop?
  • How does that fit the old design?
  • What colors are the right ones?
  • What do you really need?
  • What is redundant? 

I found out that I liked the way it was, but also disliked how the Unity launcher was working.  At the same time, I like the idea of lenses, the dock and also the top-bar.

Note: This is a design study, not a final product… (surprise!). Every third-party element belongs to the third-party, not to the designer of that design study.

It took some time and a few redesigns and this is what my interpretation of the desktop was looking like:

You can see it is quite simple, clean and surprisingly familiar.

At first, it seems to be quite the same like always, but at that point, it already has a lot of thoughts in it.

The Desktop Design

It was important to me to pick up the old and use it as a base. As if you were renovating a house. Ubuntu had a kind of good workflow and a certain design and feeling. I did not want to lose that.

  • The bars on the desktop have a shadow like before, but also to be distinctive from each other. The dock on the left is always on top.
  • Also, they have transparency, this makes it more modern and I use dark transparent tones to define areas or buttons.
  • The text elements don´t have a shadow anymore, giving it a more flat design. Also most elements are dark, so no shadow needed.
  • The colors are from the Ubuntu color palette, Ubuntu orange and Canonical aubergine.
  • And: There is no way to mistake it with Windows or macOS, even with any other Linux distribution

The Dock

It is quite the same… but…

  • The new dock is still on the left side, but FINALLY it stretches from the top to the bottom. No more wasted space or confusion with words like “Activities” (what’s that…?)
  • Logo = Branding. Why? Because Ubuntu as a brand is also important. Let the people get used to it and use it as a start-up point.
  • Apps – like before, you can pin and start your preferred apps on the dock, every open app is shown here – like before. Apps-notifications would be nice, a darker layer under the icon when the app is open (you can see that below) and an orange dot shows, how many windows of the app/program are open. But, the icons are not that big anymore, making it less playful and more serious. And please: When clicking on an app on the dock it should minimize.
  • Trash  – it is still an important and useful thing and people are used to it – let’s keep it this way, until we invent something better.

The Top-Bar

Same same, but different

  • Starts left, beginning from the Dock, not the screen-edge
  • Like in Gnome, there is the date and time and the notification-indicator (orange dot). Click to open the new “Information Center
  • On the right, I did get rid of every unnecessary item. Do you really need to know how strong your WIFI is all the time? How the volume is set? If Bluetooth is on? Most of us don’t, in particular end-users should not care about it all the time. What’s left is the (not the final name…) “Me and the machine” button as a concept for a multiple-indicator and button. So for example, when you have a laptop, the circle around the user-icon shows the charge. There is a possibility to have more simple information build in that button, like when bluetooth is connected or when problems appear. It’s a kind of new way to handle that – simple but more than enough.

So you see, it is a lot like the old, but with a few new ways and some simple design rules. And showing just what you really need to see. No deflections, nor overload. But still every element is always there for you when you need to do or see something.

I would love to see that you can change the color (aubergine) in the settings to make it more personal. To give the user a way to change the whole system by changing just one color.

This could be handled with predefined colors to stay on a certain level of brightness we need. 

A quick example, the colors are still dark, quiet and at the same time the whole desktop changes: