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Why is it now located in the launcher rather than the top left?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

Quote from Mark Shuttleworth

In the panel, you’ll see that the top left corner is now consistently used to close whatever has the focus. Maximising a window keeps the window controls in the same position relative to the window – the top left corner. We have time to refine the behaviour of this based on user testing of the betas; for example, in one view, one should be able to close successive windows from that top left corner even if they are not maximised.

It’s taken several releases of careful iteration to get to this point. Even though we had a good idea where we were headed, each step needed to be taken one release at a time. Perhaps this might make a little clearer the reasons for the move of window controls to the left – it was the only place where we could ultimately keep them consistent all the way up to a maximised window with the title bar integrated into the panel. I’m confident this part will all be settled by 12.04.

As part of this two-step shuffle, the Dash invocation is now integrated in the Launcher. While this is slightly less of a Fitts-fantastic location, we consider it appropriate for a number of reasons. First, it preserves the top left corner for closing windows. Second, the Dash is best invoked with the Super key (sometimes erroneously and anachronistically referred to as the “Windows” key, for some reason ;-) ). And finally, observations during user testing showed people as more inclined to try clicking on items in the Launcher than on the top left icon in the panel, unless that icon was something explicit like a close button for the window. Evidence based design rules.

Paraphrasing Mark User testing showed that the original location confused people ,so the dash in 11.10 was an attempt to resolve this.

For 12.04 - the dash button remained within the Launcher.

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It probably also had to do with usability testing of Unity back in November last year, in which people participating in the testing had a hard time locating the button for opening the Dash. A quote provided by one participant seems particularly relevant to the new placement:

“The logo should stand out more. It would be nice if the icon itself [was] coming at you, more of a three-dimensional thing.”

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There may be many reasons. One reason may be that the Ubuntu button must be close to the launcher, and that it should be possible to move the launcher to different area of the screen. On my dual monitor setup, for instance, it would be much more comfortable to have it on the right edge of the right screen, because that's more directly in front of me.

It might also be possible that people who read right to left might prefer to have it on the right hand side. It would be very awkward if the Ubuntu button and the launcher were on completely different places -- like on different monitors. It could not be placed on the right hand side of the panel, because that would make it too inconsistent.

I somewhat liked having it on the panel, but I've come to the conclusion that it is better to have it on the launcher.

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