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Honestly, why have two things that do basically the same thing? That's not very good UX, IMHO!

I would just remove the list as it's pretty redundant. There are like only 7 settings sections, not like 100, where you need an alphabetical list to find things easier; plus we have the Search bar if we want to find something specific.


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11 hours ago, Cristian Dragos said:

Honestly, why have two things that do basically the same thing? That's not very good UX, IMHO!

Cristian, I have to disagree on this point.

Having more than one way to get to a function can be very useful. Not everyone uses the application the same way as you. I, for example, don't use keyboard shortcuts much so they aren't very useful to me but they are extremely important to some users. Dropping keyboard shortcuts wouldn't make my life much worse but plenty of people would be lost without them. The more ways you can use the software the more accessible it is to more users and that can only be a good thing.

At the moment, the category icons in the dialog are - as Chris said - listed by "importance" or 'relevance', whereas the categories in the drop-down list are in alphabetical order. This difference can be very useful to some people.
I accept that, presently, there aren't very many categories so it's not a big problem to find what you're looking for (if you can figure out which category the setting you need is in) but as the application grows in scope there will probably be many more categories. And, as the number of categories grows, the icons listed by 'relevance' will necessarily change in their ordering as one becomes more or less 'relevant' than the others, whereas the alphabetical order will not change.
If you get into the habit of selecting the category via an alphabetically ordered list then new categories coming in will have little affect on how you use this dialog; e.g. "Colour" will always come nearer the top of the list than "User Interface". A user who uses this dialog a lot will probably benefit from this alphabetical list being more 'stable' in order than a list that is ordered by 'relevance'.

To compliment the alphabetical list it might be nice if the category could be selected by pressing a relevant key rather than having to select it with the mouse. That way, you could select a category by simply pressing, for example, tab, space, K for Keyboard Shortcuts. At the moment you can use the keyboard up to a point but then have to switch to a mouse to complete the transaction, which doesn't make much sense to me.

P.S. The current search facility isn't particularly useful as far as I can see. For example, typing "mo" in the search box highlights both the "User Interface" and "Tools" categories - possibly for "Monochromatic Iconography" and "Use Mouse Wheel to Zoom" - but there's no way to see which category you need without clicking on one of the icons and then maybe clicking on the other if the first one wasn't the one you wanted. The search would be much more useful if it displayed a list of the actual found preference setting names which could then be selected to take the user to the appropriate page. Otherwise it's a bit of a lottery.

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Hey Garry,

Of course, you can disagree, but my point still stands and your arguments are not very solid, especially the silly example of dropping keyboard shortcuts.

First of all, it's not obvious the list is in alphabetical order... this is something you have to figure for yourself and again, it's not hard since there are only 7 items in the list.
Speaking of the number of items, they won't grow that much in the future (considering the app's history and direction), so again this point doesn't hold true.

Second, how are your settings arrange on your phone, TV, OS and so on? Do you have two layout options at the same time? I guess not.
Instead what they could do is to add a filter/arrangement switch button which would change the layout from grid icons to an alphabetical list or something just like we have on online stores, (like a small A-Z icon, for example, to be more intuitive).

Seeing the same things twice at the same time it's bad UX however you put it (especially for new users) and this has nothing to do with how someone uses their application since we're talking about the Settings panel which no matter how you use the app, you don't open all day long. Usually, you setup some things at first and then you stick with it so it's not a matter of productivity or app usage.

Regarding keyboard shortcuts in the settings panel, I agree, they could be very useful. I would suggest you create a new post about this in the Requests section. Same goes for the Search bar which is not very useful as well since it's doesn't give you much feedback while searching other than highlighting a specific Icon. This as well have room for improvement so why not just add a feature request, right?

Have a great weekend,

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2 hours ago, Cristian Dragos said:

the silly example of dropping keyboard shortcuts

I don't know why you thought my example was silly. Maybe not the best example in this context, but one that does show that giving users more than one way of doing things can be better. You said - as far as I understand you - that having more than one way to do the same thing wasn't good for the user experience. By that reasoning, we should only be able to choose a tool in one way, either by clicking on the tool icon with the mouse or using a shortcut key but not both. I don't think that would give a better user experience myself. Some people prefer to click on an icon, some people prefer to choose from a menu, some people prefer to use a shortcut key. Let them do what they want and most people will be happy.

Perhaps a better example in this context would be the "Bold" and "Italic" buttons on the Text context bar in Publisher. They both replicate the action of the user selecting a typeface variant from the drop-down list beside them so - by your reasoning (as I understand it) - they shouldn't be there as they replicate something can be done another way. I, on the other hand, think that they're a very useful way of quickly making a formatting change rather than selecting from a - potentially - long list of variants, especially for new users and/or those coming from word processors. Horses for courses I suppose.

2 hours ago, Cristian Dragos said:

it's not obvious the list is in alphabetical order

Personally I understood that the items in the preferences drop-down list were in alphabetical order straight away but maybe that's just me. Not all drop-down lists should be in alphabetical order - for various reasons - but this one is just fine as it is, for me at least.

2 hours ago, Cristian Dragos said:

the number of items, they won't grow that much in the future

Unless you work for Serif - or an affiliated organisation working on the Affinity range (if there are any) - you cannot know how many categories will be in the preferences panel in the future. Remember that this panel is shared between the three Affinity products and so should work the same way in all of them. Publisher already has eleven categories and it hasn't even had its first proper release so nobody - even, I'm guessing, the Affinity developers - knows how many there will be in five or ten years time. InDesign has nearly twenty categories in its preferences dialog and if Publisher is eventually aiming for similar functionality then the eleven it already has will most probably grow (unless the developers come up with a nice way to make it redundant). If you introduce the functionality while the product is young, people will get used to using it and when it matures it will already be second-nature so they don't need to learn anything new.

2 hours ago, Cristian Dragos said:

how are your settings arrange on your phone, TV, OS and so on?

The settings on Windows 10 are shared between various applications - Settings, Control Panel, etc. - and they all have different ways to let you navigate between them - menus, drop-downs, quick links, breadcrumbs, etc. - so I don't know where your analogy is going there. What needs to be addressed is that the settings need to be accessible on desktops and tablets so that might be why Serif have gone down the route they have with the icons but I agree that it could probably be done better. Some kind of switch, as you say, might be more intuitive than the current situation.

The preferences panel, as it is at the moment, doesn't seem to have been given the same kind of 'love' that the rest of the application has. Maybe this will change in the future.

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Honestly, now you're just arguing for the argument's sake or either you have too much time on your hands. 

So I'm not going to give into this useless argument. 

But I'm willing to bet my money,that I don't have, that most users don't even know that list is there and it's almost never used (see my previous arguments). 

And if you would know anything about UI/UX design than we wouldn't have this silly argument.

Have a great weekend... Please try to loosen up :) There are other important problems in this word and life is to short to argue over some buttons. 


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If you don't want to discuss this further then that's absolutely fine and dandy with me, no hard feelings.
Sometimes it's useful and/or interesting to discuss things like this but I realise it's not to everyone's taste.
Just in case anyone else wants to continue a discussion about buttons, here's a nice picture.
I like the big yellow one, but the red one next to it isn't without its charm.


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