toward click-free guis

July 29th, 2007

I think that a big part of user interface improvement lies in re-examining old answers to still existing questions. For example: when do we really need to click the mouse?


I think we could do with less mouse clicks. And if nothing else, a click-free mode you can turn on if you want to.


I don't know how many long surveys you've taken, but I find them daunting. My question is: why do we need to click to select?

I think the answer is that most people use their mouse pointer liberally and they think as long as I don't click anything, there's no way I can screw up. And thus introducing selection-on-mouseover would be too subtle, and too confusing.

So let's eliminate the confusion.

A mockup

This is a configuration dialog from Konqueror (slightly modded to just show the part I'm interested in). Nothing has happened here yet, this is how it looked when it came up.


Now I want to select the platform option, so I move my pointer over it and the dialog changes to look like this:


The option I selected has become blue, which tells me that this option has been modified.

The two buttons OK and Apply have also become blue, which means that if I click one of them I confirm the modification I have made.

(Should it be necessary to click the buttons or can I just move the mouse over them? Let's go conservative for now and require a click.)

But suppose I don't want to turn on this option after all. I move my pointer away from it, and then I move it over it again:


The checkbox has become unchecked again, so the option is deselected. But since I considered turning it on, it's highlighted in yellow to tell me that I thought about it.

Also, the Defaults button is now highlighted, to show that the current settings correspond to the defaults. It's highlighted green to tell me that I have re-entered the default settings.

All good?

One problem that comes to mind is this. If I move my pointer over the dialog I select every option unless I'm very careful:


One solution could be to set a certain interval during which the pointer has to be on the option I want to select. For example half a second. This would be configurable, of course.

:: random entries in this category ::

1 Responses to "toward click-free guis"

  1. John says:

    This is already sort-of implemented by KDE for the Desktop/File-Manager. You can enable "single-click" mode (one click opens the item) selection is done by hovering over the item.

    I find it tremendously clunky and hard to use, furthermore for people with laptop touch-pads any such system would be unusable.