The Yakkety Yak 16.10 release animal artwork is now available to download here.
16.10 release animal
Initial design exploration
Design development – head detail
The Yakkety Yak 16.10 is released and now you can download the new wallpaper by clicking here. It’s the latest part of the set for the Ubuntu 2016 releases following Xenial Xerus. You can read about our wallpaper visual design process here.
Recently the brand team designed new logos for Core and Ubuntu Core. Both of which will replace the existing Snappy logo and bring consistency across all Ubuntu Core branding, online and in print.
Use the Core logo when the Ubuntu logo or the word Ubuntu appears within the same field of vision. For example: web pages, exhibition stands, brochure text.
Use the Ubuntu Core logo in stand alone circumstances where there is no existing or supporting Ubuntu branding or any mention of Ubuntu within text. For example: third-party websites or print collateral, social media sites, roll-up banners.
The Ubuntu Core logo is also used for third-party branding.
Extensive design exploration was undertaken considering: logotype arrangement, font weight, roundel designs – exploring the ‘core’ idea, concentric circles and the letter ‘C’ – and how all the elements came together as a logo.
Options for how the logotype/wordmark is presented:
Core, circles and the letter ‘C’
Design exploration using concentric circles of varying line numbers, spacing and line weights. Some options incorporating the Circle of Friends as an underlying grid to determine specific angles.
Design exploration using the Circle of Friends – in its entirety and stripped down.
How the logotype and roundel design sit together.
Full sets of Core and Ubuntu Core logo artwork are now available at design.ubuntu.com/downloads.Read more
We have been looking at ways of making the Terminal app more pleasing, in terms of the user experience, as well as the visuals.
I would like to share the work so far, invite users of the app to comment on the new designs, and share ideas on what other new features would be desirable.
On the visual side, we have brought the app in line with our Suru visual language. We have also adopted the very nice Solarized palette as the default palette – though this will of course be completely customisable by the user.
On the functionality side we are proposing a number of improvements:
-Ability to completely customise touch/keyboard shortcuts
-Ability to split the screen horizontally/vertically (similar to Terminator)
-Ability to easily customise the palette colours, and window transparency (on desktop)
-Adding a “find” action for searching the history
On larger screens tabs will be visually persistent. In addition it’s desirable to be able split a panel horizontally and vertically, and use keyboard shortcuts or focusing with a mouse/touch to move between the focused panel.
On mobile, the tabs will be accessed through the bottom edge, as on the browser app.
We are discussing the option of having modifier (Ctrl, Alt etc) keys working together with the on-screen keyboard on touch – which would be a very welcome addition. While this is possible to do in theory with our on-screen keyboard, it’s something that won’t land in the immediate near future. In the interim modifier key combinations will still be accessible on touch via the shortcuts at the bottom of the screen. We also want to make these shortcuts ordered by recency, and have the ability to add your own custom key shortcuts and commands.
We are also discussing with the on-screen keyboard devs about adding an app specific auto-correct dictionary – in this case terminal commands – that together with a swipe keyboard should make a much nicer mobile terminal user experience.
We would like the user to be able to define their own custom themes more easily, either via in-app settings with colour picker and theme import, or by editing a JSON configuration file. We would also like to be able to choose the window transparency (in windowed mode), as some users want a see-through terminal.
These visuals are work in progress – we would love to hear what kind of features you would like to see in your favourite terminal app!
Also, as Terminal app is a fully community developed project, we are looking for one or two experienced Qt/QML developers with time to contribute to lead the implementation of these designs. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to discuss details!
EDIT: To clarify – these proposed visuals are improvements for the community developed terminal app currently available for the phone and tablet. We hope to improve it, but it is still not as mature as older terminal apps. You should still be able to run your current favourite terminal (like gnome-terminal, Terminator etc) in Unity8.Read more
Last week the developers in the web team swapped the office for the lobby of the hotel across the street. The day was geared up to allow us to leave our daily tasks in the office and think of ideas that we would like to work on.
The morning started with coffee and sitting in sofas brainstorming ideas. We collected a list of ideas from each person would like to work on. The ideas ranged from IRC bots to a performance audit of a few of our sites.
We wrote all the ideas on post it notes and lay them out on the table. Then each of us chose the idea we were most interested in working on by putting our hand on it. I worked out an almost perfect split of two people per idea, so we broke up into our teams and got to work.
Here are the things we worked on during this “hack day”.
These are bots that can listen to an action and report it to our IRC channel. For example, the creator of a pull request wouldn’t have to paste a link to their PR into our channel to be picked up for review.
This task was picked up by Karl and Will, who started by setting up a Hubot on Heroku. They attached a webhook to all projects under the ubuntudesign to listen for pull requests and report this in the web team channel.
This bot can be used for many other things like reporting deployments, CI failures, etc. We also discussed a method of subscribing to the notifications you are interested in, instead of the whole team being notified about everything.
Our asset manager and server acts as an internal asset storage. By storing an asset here we get a link to it which can be used by any website. As there are many assets stored in the asset manager we usually need to search existing assets to see if one already exists before making a new one.
Graham and myself picked this task and started by working out how to setup both the manager and server locally.
Previously the search would return results that contained either of a two-word query, but now the result has to contain all search terms to return.
We added our Vanilla framework to the front end, as it is obviously good to use our framework for all internal and external projects.
We have also implemented filtering results by file type, which makes it easy to go through what can sometimes be dozens of search results.
GitHub CMS is a nicer and more restricted interface that the marketing team can use to edit the GitHub repository containing page content for example, www.ubuntu.com.
Even though Robin was also helping out with. setting up the asset manager and server locally for Graham and me, he still managed to investigate the best Python framework to use and selected one. Rich on the other hand went ahead with the front end and developed a bunch of page templates using the new MAAS GUI Vanilla theme.
Commit linting is a service that gives a committer to a project a nice step by step wizard to build a high quality commit message.
Barry picked up this task and got the service up and running, and working, but hit a blocker at the point of choosing between different methods of committing. For instance, Tower would bypass this step and also we do not necessarily want to dictate to contributors which way they should commit code. This is something we will leave as an investigation for the time being.
Our hack day went well, in fact better than I imagined it would. We all had fun, got to work on things we found important but struggle to get prioritised in our day to day. It gave the developers a feeling of achievement and the buzz of landing and releasing something at the end of the day.
We will be attempting to do a hack day once every month or so, so watch this space!Read more
You may have noticed that the scrollbars available on Ubuntu Touch and the Unity8 environment have recently received a huge overhaul in both visual appearance and user experience. More specifically, we redesigned the Scrollbar component (which is already provided in the Ubuntu UI Toolkit) and added a new ScrollView component that builds on top of it and caters for convergence.
Technical note to app developers: the Scrollbar component is still available for compatibility purposes, but we recommend transitioning to the new and convergent ScrollView.
The process was as follows:
We started by researching the field, exploring the possibilities and thoroughly analyzing the history of the scrollbar component. The output of this step was an interaction specification. The visual design team picked that up and applied our visual style to the component, ensuring a consistent visual language across all the elements provided by the UI Toolkit.
Once we had a first draft of the interaction and visual specs, we created a prototype of the component.
We then iterated over the design choices and refined the prototype. While iterating we also took into account the results of the user testing research that we conducted in the meanwhile. The testers found the new scrollbars easy to use and visually appealing. The only pain point highlighted by the research were the stepper buttons, that were deemed a bit small. We refined them by creating a new crispier graphic asset and by tweaking their size as well as the visual feedback they provided, especially when being hovered with a mouse.
Once we were happy with the result, we submitted our work to be reviewed by the SDK team. The SDK team are the final gatekeeper and decide whether the implementation of a component is ready to be merged to the UI Toolkit or not. The review process can be lengthy, but it is of great help in ensuring a higher code quality, less bugs and clearer documentation. Once the SDK team gave the green light, the component was merged to the next release of the UI Toolkit.
A critical requirement of the new solution was to be “convergence-ready”. Convergence means implementing a UI that scales not just across form factors, but also across different input devices. This is particularly important in the case of scrolling, as it must be responsive to all input devices.
The new ScrollView can be interacted with using the touchscreen of your phone or tablet, but thanks to convergence, now your tablet can turn into a full fledged computing device with a hardware keyboard and a pointer device, such as a mouse. The component must be up to the task and adapt to the capabilities provided by the input device which is currently in use.
At any time, the new scrollbar can be in one of the 3 following modes:
Let’s go through the modes in more detail.
Whenever the user scrolls content without directly interacting with the scrollbar, i.e. he or she performs a flick or uses the mouse wheel or keyboard keys, the scrollbar gently fades in as an overlay on top of the content. In this mode the scrollbar is not interactive, and just acts as a visual aid to provide information about the position of the content. The indicator gently fades out following a short timeout after the surface stops scrolling.
Please note: we will be replacing these images with GIFs soon.
Imagine you want to send a picture to a friend of yours, but the file is somewhere down the very lengthy grid of pictures. Let’s also suppose you’re using a smartphone or tablet and you have no mouse or keyboard connected to it. Wouldn’t it be handy to have a way to quickly scroll a long distance without having to repeatedly flick the list? We designed Thumb mode to address that use case.
When the content on screen reaches a length of 10 or more pages, the thin indicator provided by the indicator mode grows thicker into an interactive thumb. That marks the transition to the Thumb mode. While the scrollbar is in Thumb mode you can drag the thumb using touchscreen to quickly scroll the content.
The component still fades out when the user stops interacting with the surface and the surface stops scrolling, in order to leave as much real estate to the application content as possible.
When the user is interacting with the UI using a pointer device, they expect a different experience than a touchscreen. Pointer devices allow for much more precise interactions and also provide different ways of interacting with the UI components, such as hovering. A good convergent component exploits those additional capabilities to provide the best user experience for the input device which is currently in use.
When the user hovers over the area occupied by the (initially hidden) scrollbar, the bar reveals itself, this time in what we call Stepper mode.
This mode is optimized for pointer device interactions, although it can be interacted with using touchscreen as well. More generally, for a component to be defined convergent the user must be able to start interacting with it using one input device (in this case, a mouse) and switch to another (e.g. touch screen) whenever they wish to. That transition must be effortless and non disruptive.
When in Stepper mode, the scrollbar has a thick and interactive thumb. This is similar to the Thumb mode we presented in the previous section. However, Stepper mode also provides a semi-transparent background and the two clickable stepper buttons desktop users are already accustomed to. The steppers buttons can be clicked to scroll a short distance. Holding a stepper button pressed will scroll multiple times.
The areas above and below the thumb are also interactive. You can click/tap or press-and-hold to scrolling by one or more pages.
Once the user moves the pointer away from the scrollbar area and the surface stops scrolling, the component elegantly fades out, just like in the other modes.
We put a lot of efforts into making the transitions between the different modes as smooth and visually pleasing as possible. The alignment of the sub components (the thumb, its background, the stepper buttons), their sizes, their colours have been carefully chosen to achieve that goal.
When the bar grows from Indicator to Thumb modes and vice versa, it does so by anchoring one side and expanding only the opposite one. This minimizes unexpected movements and produces a simple yet crisp animated transition. Those same principles also apply to the transitions from thumb to stepper modes and indicator to stepper and vice versa. We wanted to create transitions that would look elegant but not distrustful.
The new scrollbar also provides visual aids to indicate when a pointer device is hovering over any of the sub components. Both the stepper buttons and the thumb react to hovering by adjusting their colours.
A lot of effort has gone into tweaking the interactions to provide an effortless interaction model. Here’s a summary of how we handle touch screen and pointer devices:
It is a lot of small (and sometimes trivial!) details that make up for a great user experience.
Some of you might be wondering: “what about keyboard input?”
I’m glad you asked! That is an important feature to realize full convergence. The ScrollView components handles that transparently for you. Scrolling content using the keyboard is just as easy as scrolling using the touchscreen or any pointer device:
The new scrollbars fully implement our vision of convergence. The user can interact with any of the input device he has available and switch from one to the other at any time. The interactions feel snappy and we think the component looks great too!
We can’t wait for you to try it and let us know your opinion!
The focus so far has been on getting the right visual appearance and user experience.
However, in order to have a complete solution, we also need to make sure adding such a feature as scrollbars to the applications does not come with a big performance drawback. Ideally, all the scrollable surfaces (images, text fields, etc) should include a scrollbar and that means it’s very important to provide a component that is not just easy to use and visually appealing but also extremely performant.
There are two main aspects where the performance of this component comes into play: the performance of interactions, so that they happen immediately and without unexpected delays. I believe we’re in a very good shape there. The second is: the time it takes to create a scrollbar when an application needs one; this affects application startup time and the time it takes to load a new view that holds scrollable content.
A few changes have already been implemented, which has resulted in a speed-up of about 25%. These changes should be released with OTA13.
If you have ideas or want to provide any feedback, here are the contact details of the people who worked on this project.
IRC: #ubuntu-touch channel on FreeNode server
Alternatively, start a thread on the ubuntu-phone mailing list.Read more
Last week we released phase 1 of the new App Design Guides, which included Get started and Building blocks. Now we have just released phase 2: Patterns. This includes handy guidance on gestures, navigation and layout possibilities to provide a great user experience in your app.
Find guidance for utilizing components for effective and natural user journeys within your UI.
Use the Grid Unit System to help visualise how much space you have in order to create a consistent and proportionate UI.
More sections will be added to patterns in the future, such as search, accessibility and communication.
Up next is phase 3: System integration; which includes the number of a touchpoints your app can plug into inside the Ubuntu operating system shell, such as the launcher, notifications and indicators.
If you want to help us improve these guides, join our mailing list. We’d love to hear from you!Read more
Over the past few months, the Juju team has been working on a whole redesign of the Juju store </><style=”font-weight: 400;”>homepage</><style=”font-weight: 400;”> and we’re very happy to announce that it is now live!
Juju is an application and service modelling tool that enables you to quickly model, configure, deploy and manage applications in the cloud. Juju comes with ready-made solutions for everything you need – these solutions are encapsulated in Charms and Bundles:
The new Juju Charm store allows you to explore the growing ecosystem of over 300 charms and bundles – everything you need to build your app.
You can now get started with the featured charms and bundles at the top or explore the whole collection of categories:
We’ve surfaced key categories and highlighted their most popular services:
The search stays the same for now, but we’re working on improvements which will be released in the near future:
You can explore bundles and view charm details:
And deploy your chosen charm, using the GUI or CLI:
Check it out at:https://jujucharms.com/store
We’ve summarised four of the most important stages of the project for you to get an insight into our design process.
You may want a shiny new design, but if you don’t understand the problems that you are trying to solve you’ll probably find yourself having to redesign the whole page again in no time. We therefore began by identifying the issues that we wanted this new design to tackle, and laying out the new store requirements.
This is what the store homepage looked like before the redesign:
The original goal of this page was to feature the breadth of the software available for Juju. However, there were a number of elements in our previous design that didn’t facilitate a smooth browsing experience. As the Juju ecosystem grew, we found the need to increase the store’s performance by:
Before making any design decisions we:
It’s a surprisingly large amount of prep work but absolutely essential – all this research enabled us to gain some insight into our audience and allowed the definition of use cases which we then used as a basis for our designs.
We also undertook a competitor benchmarking project with the aim of:
Testing the design enabled us to continuously iterate towards a solution that, when finalised, was very well received by the community. We love conducting user testing sessions to see how our designs are performing, and it’s hard to over-emphasise the importance of watching actual people interact with your design!
We’ve enjoyed every stage of this process and are very happy it is now available to the public. We’d welcome any feedback, please don’t hesitate to share it here. Check it out here
Every year since 2001, creatives from different design disciplines meet and share their ideas and innovations about digital, interaction and print design in the design festival called OFFF.
This festival was previously held in different countries, but has now found its home in Barcelona at the Design Museum. For three days the festival was jam-packed full of inspirational ideas and speakers such as Paula Scher, Tony Brook, Joshua Davis and many more.
OFFF space in the Design Musem
OFFF 2016 book and program
The festival gives a great overview of design trends, work processes and implementation practices, as well as generating ideas and inspiration from around the world. A festival organizer claimed that: “it is more than just a Festival hosting innovative and international speakers, it is more than a meeting point for all talents around the world to collaborate, it is more than feeding the future. OFFF is a community inviting all those who are eager to learn to participate and get inspired by a three-day journey of conferences, workshops, activities, and performances.”
Before coming to the festival make sure you have a list of speakers you would like to hear, because there are 50 different talks taking place covering a wide scope of topics. It was interesting to hear designers sharing their experiences in design, such as self-initiated projects, dealing with clients, social life versus private, time management and working in a team and solo difficulties.
Joshua Davis design
Being surrounded by creative people for a three days helps you look at your work from the different perspectives. It is always healthy to leave your comfort zone and talk to other creators to see what kind of issues other people have, and how they are solving them. There’s no wrong or right way in the creative process. There are different ways which might work for you, and some that don’t. Inspiring talks give you energy and make you believe that anything is possible to achieve; you just need to do it!
Juju is a cloud orchestration tool which enables users to build models to run applications. You can just as easily use it to deploy a simple WordPress blog or a complex big data platform. Juju is a command line tool but also has a graphical user interface (GUI) where users can choose services from a store, assemble them visually in the GUI, build relations and configure them with the service inspector.
Juju GUI allows users to
Over the last year we’ve been working on a redesign of the Juju GUI. This redesign project focused on improving four key areas, which also acted as our guiding design principles.
Empty state of the canvas
Apache charm details
Mediawiki deployment with errors
Inspector home view
Inspector errors view
Inspector config view
The project has been amazing, we’re really happy to see that it’s launched and are already planning the next updates.
We’re very happy to announce the return of the Ubuntu App Design Clinics.
The first session is planned for 4.00PM BST on Friday the 17th of June, with subsequent sessions occurring at 4.00PM BST on Thursdays.
We’ll be on camera talking to Dan Wood regarding his work on the OwnCloud App. Feel free to drop in and join the discussion via IRC:
We look forward to seeing you there!Read more
Last year we were working on OOBE redesign with the aim to improve first user experience with Ubuntu phone. Now the Design Team is working on the second part of this project which we call Edge Education.
The purpose of Edge Education is to aid discoverability and to educate users into using them naturally. For example, did you know what you can access the whole system by swiping from the edges of the screen.
How many edges Ubuntu phone has?
At the moment, the Ubuntu phone has four edges that can be interacted with in six ways.
Left short swipe
If you short swipe across the left edge you will open the launcher.
Left long swipe
You can quickly come back from any app to the Dash by a long left swipe.
Swiping from the top edge will give you access to indicator menus.
Right long swipe
Long swipe from the right edge will open the switcher to let you move between open apps.
Right short swipe
Swiping from the right edge you will switch between your current and previous app (ALT-TAB interaction).
Bottom swipe (app specific)
Swiping from the bottom edge brings you different functionality depending if you are in app or scope. Not all apps has a bottom edge. If an app has a bottom edge you will know this by seeing a bottom edge hint. For example, you can add a new contact by swiping from the bottom edge in the Contacts app. By doing bottom edge swipe in the scopes you can quickly favourite and unfavorite your scopes.Read more
OpenStack is the leading open cloud platform, and Ubuntu is the world’s most popular operating system for OpenStack. Over the past two years we have created a tool that allows users to build an Ubuntu OpenStack cloud on their own hardware in a few simple steps: Autopilot.
This post covers the design process we followed on our journey from alpha to beta to release.
We started by mapping out a basic Autopilot journey based on stakeholder requirements and designed a first cut of all the necessary steps to build a cloud:
After the initial design phase Autopilot was developed and released as an alpha and a beta. This means that for over a year, there was a product to play around with, test and improve before it was made generally available.
Almost immediately after the engineering team started building our new designs, we discovered that we needed to display an additional set of data on the storage graphs. On top of that, some guerilla testing sessions with Canonical engineers brought to light that the CPU and the storage graphs were easily misinterpreted.
After some more competitive research and exploratory sketching, we decided to merge the graphs for each section by putting the utilisation on a vertical axis and the time on the horizontal axis. This seemed to improve the experience for our engineers, but we also wanted to validate with users in usability testing, so we tested the designs with eight participants that were potential Autopilot users. From this testing we learned to include more information on the axes and to include detailed information on hover.
The current graphs are quite an evolution compared to what we started with:
Before a user gets to the Autopilot wizard, they have to configure their hardware, install an application called MAAS to register machines and install Landscape to get access to Autopilot. A third tool called Juju is installed to help Autopilot behind the scenes.
All these bits of software work together to allow users to build their clouds; however, they are all developed as stand-alone products by different teams. This means that during the initial design phase, it was a challenge to map out the entire journey and get a good idea of how the different components work together.
Only when the Autopilot beta was released, was it finally possible for us to find some hardware and go through the entire journey ourselves, step by step. This really helped us to identify common roadblocks and points in the journey where more documentation or in-app explanation was required.
Following our walk-through, we identified a number of points in the Autopilot journey where contextual help was required. In collaboration with the engineering team we gathered definitions of technical concepts, technical requirement, and system restrictions.
Based on this info, we made adjustments to the UI. We designed a landing page with a checklist and introduction copy, and we added headings, help text, and tooltips to the installation and dashboard page. We also included a summary panel on the configuration page, to guide users through the journey and provide instant feedback.
Perhaps the most rewarding type of feedback we gathered from the beta release — our early customers liked Autopilot but wanted more features. From the first designs Autopilot has aimed to help users quickly set up a test cloud. But to use Autopilot to build a production cloud, additional features were required.
One of the biggest improvements for GA release was making it easy to try Autopilot, even for people that don’t have enough spare hardware to build a cloud. Our solution: try Autopilot using VMware!
In the alpha version a user could already select nodes, but in most enterprises users want more flexibility. Often there are different types of hardware for different roles in the cloud, so users don’t always want to automatically distribute all the OpenStack services over all the machines. We designed the ability to choose specific roles like storage or compute for machines, to allow users to make the most of their hardware.
The first feature we added was the ability to add hardware to the cloud. This makes it possible to grow a small test cloud into a production sized solution. We also added the ability to integrate the cloud with Nagios, a common monitoring tool. This means if something happens on any of the cloud hardware, users would receive a notification through their existing monitoring system.
This month we are celebrating another release of OpenStack Autopilot. In the two years since we started designing Autopilot, we have been able to add many improvements and it has been a great experience for us as designers to contribute to a maturing product.
We will continue to iterate and refine the features that are launched and we’re currently mapping the roadmap for the months ahead. Our goal remains for Autopilot to be a tool for users to maintain and upgrade an enterprise grade cloud that can be at the core of their operations.
Suru is based on Japanese aesthetics: minimalism, lightness and fluidity. This is why you will see the platform moving to a cleaner and more modern look.
Naturally, part of this evolution is colour. The new palette features a lightened set of colours with clearly defined usage to create better visual hierarchy and an improved aesthetic sense of visual harmony.
On the technical side, SDK colour handling has been improved so that in the future colour usage will be more consistent and less prone to bugs.
The new palette has also expanded in scope with more colours to enable the creation of designs with greater depth, particularly as we move towards convergence, and reflects the design values we wish to impart onto the platform.
Like our SDK, the colour palette has to be scalable. As we worked on visual designs for both apps and the shell, we found that having a colour palette which only contained six colours was too limiting. When approaching elements like the indicators or even shadows in the task switcher, light grey and dark grey weren’t going to be deep enough to stand out on a windowed view, where you have wallpaper and other windows to compete with.
The new palette is made up of thirteen colours. Some noticeable differences are an overall lighter look and additional greys. Purple is gone and we’ve added a yellow to the palette. This broader palette works to solve bugs where contrast and visibility were an issue, especially with the dark theme.
How we came to choose the colours was by iteratively reworking the visual designs across the whole platform and discovering what was needed as we designed. The greys came about when we worked on the revamped dark theme and shell projects, for example the upcoming contextual menus. While we added several new greys, the UI itself has taken on a less grey look.
App backgrounds have been upped to white, the grey neutral button has been lightened to Porcelain (a very light grey) in order to keep the button from looking disabled. These changes were made to improve visibility and contrast, to lighten the palette across the board and to keep everything consistent.
The previous design of the Nearby scope (left) and the updated design using the new palette (right) The background is lighter, buttons don’t look as disabled and text is higher contrast against the background.
The new palette allows developers to have more flexibility as the theme is now dynamic, rather than the colours being hard-coded to the UI as they were previously. In fact, our palette theme is built upon a layering system for which you can find the tutorial here.
Previously orange was liberally used throughout our SDK, however such wide-ranging use of orange caused a number of UX issues:
Around the same time as these issues were identified, we were also working on the design of focus states for keyboard navigation.
A focus state needs to be instantly visible so that a user can effortlessly see which item is focused without having to pause, look harder, and think.
After exploring a wide range of different concepts, we settled on using an orange frame as our keyboard navigation focus state. However the use of this frame only worked if orange in all other areas was significantly toned down.
In order to fix the UX issues with the overuse of orange and to enable the use of an orange frame as our keyboard navigation focus state, the decision was made to be much more selective as to where and when orange should be applied. The use of orange should now be limited to a single hero item per surface in addition to its use as our keyboard focus state.
This change has:
For many years blue has been used in Ubuntu to alert the user to activities that are neutral (neither positive or negative). Examples include the Launcher pips changing to blue to give the user a persistent notification of an app alert, or the messaging menu indicator changing to blue to indicate unread messages.
Previously in some (but not all) cases orange was being used to represent select and activity states but effective keyboard navigation had not yet been designed for Unity.
As part of our work on focus states, we also needed to consider a consistent visual language for select states, with a key requirement being that an item could be both focused and selected at the same time.
After much research, experimentation and testing, blue was chosen as the Ubuntu selected state colour. Blue has also returned to being used for natural activity, for example in progress bars. The use of blue for selected and other activity states works with almost all other elements, on both dark and light backgrounds, and stands out clearly and precisely when used in combination with a focus state.
Now that our usage of colour is more precisely and consistently defined (with orange = focus, blue = selected and neutral activity), you will see use of orange minimised so that it stands out as a focus state and more blue to replace orange’s previous selection and activity use.
The sections headers now use blue to indicate which section is selected. This works well with the new focus frame that can be present when keyboard navigation is active.
Colour is important for aesthetics (the palette needs to visually work together) but it also needs to convey meaning. Therefore a semantic approach is critical for maximum usability. Some colours have cultural meanings, other colours have meanings applied by their context.
By extending the colours in our palette and organising them in a semantic way, we have created a stable framework of colour that developers can use to build their apps without time consuming and unnecessary work. We can now be confident that our Suru design values are being consistently applied to every colour related design problem as we move forward with designing and building convergence.Read more
In the coming months we will be rolling out the new app design guidelines, which will give you the latest toolkit best practices and patterns so you can make your own convergent app for Ubuntu.
The guidelines are a big part of communicating design practices and philosophy to the community and the wider audience. Without it, we wouldn’t have consistency in our design language and people who want to develop or design on Ubuntu wouldn’t be able to maintain the identity we so love.
Throughout the guide you will see the rationale behind our design values through the development our Suru visual language and philosophy.
We are going to start releasing parts of the Building Blocks section first, which contains all the components you need to start building your application.
Back in November last year we took a look at defining styles for the guide e.g. how to illustrate examples of best practice. The guide will feature UI examples of how the component will look inside an app across screen sizes, as well as breaking them apart so you can see what goes where and how.
Here’s a sneak peak…
After user testing on the current design guide, users said it was hard to find content as it was lost in the large amounts of text, so we have given the guide a bit of a nip and tuck by balancing visuals and text accordingly.
As well as ‘Get Started’, ‘Patterns’ and ‘Building blocks’ we will now introduce: ‘System integration’ and ‘Resources’ to the list, as well as an overview page for each section highlighting key areas.
System integration will feature the number of a touchpoints your app can plug into inside the Ubuntu operating system shell, such as the launcher, notifications and indicators. For example, you can add a count emblem over your app icon inside the Launcher to show unread messages or available updates.
The ‘Resources’ section will feature downloads such as grid layout templates, the new colour palette and our icon set.
We can’t wait to see your app designs and hope that our design practices will help you achieve a great user experience on Ubuntu.Read more
April marks the release of Xerus 16.4 and with it we bring a new design of our iconic wallpaper. This post will take you through our design process and how we have integrated our Suru visual language.
The foundation of our recent designs are based on our Suru visual language, which encompasses our core brand values, bringing consistency across the Ubuntu brand.
Our Suru language is influenced by the minimalist nature of Japanese culture. We have taken elements of their Zen culture that give us a precise yet simplistic rhythm and used it in our designs. Working with paper metaphors we have drawn inspiration from the art of origami that provides us with a solid and tangible foundation to work from. Paper is also transferable, meaning it can be used in all areas of our brand in two and three dimensional forms.
We started by looking at previously released wallpapers across Ubuntu to see how each has evolved from each other. After seeing the previous designs we started to apply our new Suru patterns, which inspired us to move in a new direction.
Since every new Ubuntu release is named after animal, the Design Team wanted to bring this idea closer to the wallpaper and the Suru language. The folds are part of the origami animal and become the base of which we start our design process.
To make your own origami Xerus squirrel, you can find the instructions here.
We started to look at different patterns by using various techniques with origami paper. We zoomed into particular folds of the paper, experimented with different light sources, photography, and used various effects to enhance the design.
The idea was to bring actual origami to the wallpaper as much as possible. We had to think about composition that would work across all screen sizes, especially desktop. As the wallpaper is a prominent feature in a desktop environment, we wanted to make sure that it was user friendly, allowing users to find documents and folders located on the computer screen easily. The main priority was to not let the design get in the way of everyday usage, but enhance it aesthetically and provide a great user experience.
After all the experiments with fold patterns and light sources, we started to look at colour. We wanted to integrate both the Ubuntu orange and Canonical aubergine to balance the brightness and played with gradient levels.
We balanced the contrast of the wallpaper color palette by using a long and subtle gradient that kept the bright and feel look. This made the wallpaper became brighter and more colorful.
The result was successful. The new concept and usage of Suru language helped to create a brighter wallpaper that fitted into our overall visual aesthetic. We created a three-dimensional look and feel that gives the feeling of actual origami appearance. The wallpaper is still recognizable as Ubuntu, but at the same time looks fresh and different.
The Design Team is now looking at ways to bring the Suru language into animation and fold usage. The idea is to bring an overall seamless and consistent experience to the user, whilst reflecting our tone of voice and visual identity.Read more
Last month, the web team had an offsite (outside of the office) week sprint in Holborn, central London. We don’t all work on exactly the same projects in our day-to-day, so it’s nice to have this type of sprint, where everyone can work together and show each other what we’ve been working on over the last few months.
The web team in our offsite in Holborn
One of the key items in the agenda for the week was to brainstorm possible solutions for the key areas we want to improve in our navigation.
The last time we did a major redesign of ubuntu.com’s navigation was back in 2013 — time flies! So we thought now would be a good time to explore ways to improve how users navigate Ubuntu’s main website and how they discover other sites in the Ubuntu ecosystem.
On the second day of the sprint, Francesca walked us through the current version of the navigation and explained the four key issues we want to solve. For each of the issues, she also showed how other sites solve similar problems.
While the 2013 navigation redesign solved some of the problems we were facing at the time (poor exposure of our breadth of products was a big issue, for instance) other issues have emerged since then that we’ve been meaning to address for a while.
After Francesca’s intro, we broke into four groups, and each group sketched a solution for each of the issues, which was then presented to everyone so we could discuss.
Discussing the team’s sketches
By having everyone in the team, from UX and visual designers, to developers and project managers, contribute ideas and sketch together, we were able to generate lots of ideas in a very short amount of time. We could move the project forward much more quickly than if one UX or one designer had to come up with ideas by themselves over days or weeks.
ubuntu.com’s global navigation bar
The main things to improve on the global navigation were:
It was interesting to see the different groups come up similar ideas on how to improve the usability of the global navigation. Some of the suggestions were more simple and others more involved.
The main suggestions for improvement that we discussed were:
On Bloomberg.com when you click the “Bloomberg the Company & Its Products” link at the top (above) you open a large drawer that exposes the Bloomberg universe of sites.
ubuntu.com’s main navigation with a dropdown that lists second level links
The main ubuntu.com nav is possibly the most crucial part of the navigation that we would like to improve. The key improvements we’d like to work on are:
Even though the proposed solutions were different from each other, there were some patterns that popped up more than once amongst the different groups:
In the first version of the Boston Globe’s redesigned website, the main navigation included simple featured content for each of the sections
On the John Lewis website, you can get to nursery furniture from “Home & Garden > Room” and “Baby & Child > Baby & Nursery”
The main navigation on Amazon.co.uk includes featured ads
ubuntu.com’s breadcrumb-style navigation showing third level links
The main issues with the current third level links are:
One thing that we are almost certain of is that we will not be able to remove third level links completely from our site, so we need to improve the way we show them.
The most interesting suggestions on how to handle this issue were:
On GOV.uk, sections which have sub-sections include an overview of all the sub-sections at the top of every page. This makes it easier to understand the type and breadth of content of that section
ubuntu.com’s “fat footer” with three levels of links
Ubuntu.com’s footer is certainly the simplest of the problems we want to solve in terms of navigation. But, nonetheless, there are some issues with the current solution:
The most popular idea that came out of the sketching session was to use the space available better, so that sections can be listed in a masonry type grid, rather than one per column like they currently are.
This means we’d need fewer columns to list all important content and expose the IA of the site. It also means we can ditch the middle level of the current footer design (which now holds the About, Support and Download sections).
The next step in the navigation redesign project is to build prototypes to test some of the ideas we had in our workshop, and refine the visual direction. We want to see if the assumptions we’ve made are true, and if the patterns are easy and intuitive to use across different screen sizes and devices.
We will then do some user testing and iterate based on the feedback we get.
We might also have to do some IA work alongside the redesign of the main navigation, if we do want to have links that are listed in different sections and if we want to present more curated links based on user tasks in each of the sections.
Stay tuned!Read more
It is an exciting time as we’re starting to see more and more of the new, convergence-enabled UI toolkit and features for Unity 8 come to life. Some classic X11 apps (Gimp, Libre Office and a few others) are already running on Unity 8 using new hardware from our partners, including the award winning M10 tablet from BQ – very cool.
At the same time, we want to help people write or port more applications to our platform, using our modern UI toolkit designed to smoothly flow the user experience through touch and pointer inputs, a range of screen and keyboard types and all of the permutations in between! It has been an interesting design challenge to imagine, design, and begin to build a world where all interfaces, regardless of input type or form factor, all emerge from the same core user experience and design language.
Our UX and SDK teams have been working on version 1.3 of Qt based UI toolkit, which allows developers to write applications that can be used comfortably with both touch and pointer interfaces. The work is still very much in progress, but some of it can be used today. You can check out the developer docs here.
Suru, our visual design language, has evolved into a new, much lighter, flatter and modern approach. It not only looks great (in our humble opinion), but helps app developers design good looking and well-functioning apps with less effort. Continuous visual and user experience refinements will will be rolling out across the whole OS (scopes, shell and apps) this coming year.
The new design guidelines for UX and UI patterns as well as Suru will be out soon. In the meanwhile hopefully these example apps will inspire you to have a look at the developer docs, get active on IRC and have a go yourself. We will also be releasing design source files and templates for the refreshed UI toolkit so that you can start applying them in your own app designs.
The first example app is Dekko – the default email client for mobile and tablet devices from BQ and Meizu. We have been very lucky to have the incredible talents of our community member Dan Chapman working on the development of Dekko, and the app is progressing at a fantastic rate. James Mulholland helped Dan with the UX and I have been working on the UI.
Like many apps, Dekko uses a list view to represent the primary level, and a detail view to show the secondary level. Where there’s room, these views can be displayed side by side, but on small screen screens or very shrunk windows, a PageStack showing only the list becomes the primary screen. On larger screens or expanded windows, the page stack automatically progresses into the familiar two-panel configuration. This adaptive layout is common on responsive websites, and our SDK team have built a component in the UI toolkit that does most of the hard work for you – AdaptivePageLayout.
The list item, which lives in the list component, is another example of ready made component that helps developers write convergent apps with less effort. The new ListItem in our toolkit has useful, well designed default layouts baked in when using ListItemLayout. It is also optimised for both touch and pointer interaction – via ListItemActions. A common pattern of interacting with list items on touch devices is to drag them left or right revealing key actions such as delete. When using a pointer, however, you would typically right click and use the contextual menu to access the same actions. Our UI Toolkit supports both types of input at all times, so you could drag the item left or right using a mobile or touch-enabled monitor, or right click using a mouse. We believe users should be free to mix how they interact with our components using whatever means is at their disposal and to their liking.
This behaviour is already baked into our ListItem component, so users will have a consistent experience when using apps, and developers will save time not having to roll their own solutions.
The music app is another example of the super talented Ubuntu community getting involved in building some of our core apps together with our internal teams. You might remember Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson from a previous interview on this blog. They have since been adding features and functionality to the app, and a convergent music app using multiple panels is currently working in a branch and will be landing in the master release soon. We are also looking at adding support for streaming music functionality, keep an eye out for this in the near future :)
The multi-panel music app reacts to window size changes intelligently – the album cards resize and shuffle themselves on window size changes. On smaller screen devices we have a persistent “Now playing” control bar at the bottom of the screen, but on larger screen sizes we have enough real estate to reimagine the play bar as an extra panel on the right with “Now playing” information, along with cover art, controls and a scrollable queue.
The calendar app has been on the phone for a while but until now it hadn’t really had any UI design love or designs for larger screens. We wanted to apply our visual language in the context of an app that is by default very minimal, allowing the few design elements to stand on their own.
Suru, our visual language, is light and flat, minimizing distractions, with carefully selected tones of gray, consistent spacing and margins to help the content breathe. We’ve added considered splashes of highlight colours that enhance the visual hierarchy without overwhelming it.
On the calendar app we are again making use of multiple panels, surfacing several layers when we have the real estate available. The same feature set of the app is of course available on all sizes, and the navigation feels intuitive with whatever input method or screen size you are using.
This design hasn’t been implemented yet, and in fact we are looking for new developers to join our Community Team. If you are a developer who would like to get involved in writing some of the core apps people use on Ubuntu – get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to hear from you!
Hopefully these examples have given inspiration and pointers to anyone who would like to have a go at designing apps for convergent Ubuntu. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out – email@example.com
Take a look at the final pictures of the stand taken yesterday before we opened for business today!
Phone demo pods ready to be played with :)
Entrance to the stand “Phone + OpenStack + NFV + IoT”
The Canonical meeting roomRead more
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