I would like to discuss/question some of the decisions of the new design, specifically the main view of the “recent” apps that users are presented with when they start F-Droid. For the record, I am a normal F-Droid user who didn’t even know about the redesign before the app updated; while I’m aware that a lot of work went into the new design, I was not able to find the reasoning behind the new UI there. Issue 866 does describe that the developers thought of doing A-B tests to ensure that the new design is better for most users, but I couldn’t find any public documentation of such tests so there’s no way for me to verify that claim.
The “newest” app lists the apps in not one, not two, but three different styles, which makes it seem like the UI designer couldn’t decide which of these to go with. The design switches every one or two apps, in the pattern:
big - big
small - small
Then this pattern just repeats. I have multiple issues with this:
- There is no vertical or horizontal alignment of all shown app icons, app names and descriptions. This makes it very hard for the brain to skim through the list, which was very simple in the old design. Now the eyes have to jump around the screen a lot in an irregular pattern to even read all app names, instead of being able to focus on one or two vertical columns. This gets considerably worse on higher DPI settings, where app descriptions often get cut off. So it’s also an accessibility problem.
- The size of the apps makes it seem like the apps shown in big are more important to the user, e.g. because more users downloaded them. This could be a good idea to highlight the most downloaded apps (does F-Droid even have/distribute that information?), but like this it just means 2/5th of the apps are randomly highlighted over the 3/5ths of the others apps. It’s design 101 that you only accentuate information that is actually more relevant to the user.
- The app icons in the “big” view are huuuuge. A single app in “big” design takes up like a sixth of the screen, which is clearly waaaay too much. Compare this to Google Play with 9 apps fully shown in way less space, which even additionally displays the user’s app ratings in 1-5 stars (which don’t exist in F-Droid) that allows users to distinguish which apps might be interesting to them.
- The user usually sees just one of these patterns fully. That makes it seem chaotic, it took me a while to figure out why some apps are shown differently than others and that it was just a regular pattern. Therefore the design isn’t intuitive to the user.
- There is a lot of wasted free space in the “big” view below the description text. For the “Car Report” app in my example screenshot, it’s almost a third of the whole height of the app badge!
Additionally, I find it questionable that the horizontal alignment of the text with the app icon is on top instead of in the center. I can understand this for the “big” view, in the “long” and “small” views it means there is slightly more white space on the bottom than on the top of the app badge, which just feels like the wrong kind of weighting. (This issue exists in the “search” view as well, where for some reason the “download” icon on the right is center-aligned but the app icon on the left is “top”-aligned).
Do you also see these problems that I see, or is it fine in your opinion? I’d really like to get some perspective on this, perhaps I’m the only one who has these issues…