Distinguishing decorative from meaningful elements in UI design

Ryan Singer posted a article on 37 Signals, deconstructing the design of the global navigation header on Github. In his example he points out the problem with the “Repositories: All | Search” links in the account box in the upper right of the screen, which suggests that those links are scoped to the user shown in the box.

This a great example of how visual grouping and proximity could be more effectively utilized to help users make sense of the available controls. Seems a bit strange to me that the Repositories link is in that area at all. Singer suggests moving the avatar to the right. I might even go further by moving the repository and search links to a different area or better defining the separation of those functions with the user information might be effective in this case. Removing the bounding box certainly helps to alleviate the perception of scoping created by the group, but a better visual structure could be represented here.

http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/1524-distinguishing-decorative-from-meaningful-elements-in-ui-design

Google Quick Search Box

Google’s Quick Search Box is a QuickSilver-like launcher that lets you search your computer for applications and data, as well as search the web, and your Google Apps accounts. I presume this will also eventually replace the search interface provided by Google Desktop. The project is in beta and is provided via the Labs.

From their blog:

One of our goals at Google is to make your search experience as fluid as possible. While much of our work is focused on Google.com, we’re trying to make it just as easy to search outside your browser.

For the last year, we have been working on a new, open-source quick search box. Today, we are releasing our first developer preview for the Mac.

Via @factoryjoe

http://code.google.com/p/qsb-mac/

patternBrowser

patternBrowser is an amazing design pattern library produced by the Interface Design Team of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. I’ve spent a little time looking through the interaction design category, and there’s a lot of great examples there, and most importantly they’ve done the work of organizing and describing each problem/solution thoroughly. Check it out.

http://www.patternbrowser.org/