User interface customization

Is there any chance you’d consider moving away from the paradigm of the current UI and allow some modification so that users could adapt some aspect of the interface to their needs?

I find it severely limiting to have to stick to the same layout. The Pixelmator team is a great example of developing a native Mac app but allowing some customization:

I’d like to boost this proposal. Like many designers, I used to see myself as an seasoned specialist (and quite an intelligent person), believing I knew exactly what was best for users. To put it bluntly, I lacked trust in users’ ability to modify the experience I had meticulously designed for them. Lately I came to the realization that there is no contradiction between a thoughtfully crafted default behavior and the trust in individuals’ ability to adjust their own digital space to their needs. Because, no matter how much user research we conduct, nobody understands a person’s physical and mental conditions and individual preferences better than the person themselves.

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Hi @Kilobyte9335 thanks for sharing this! I really like the idea of personalizing our tools and making them our own. If you’re feeling like it, would you like to share how would you customize the current Sketch UI?

Hi @dfmedrano :wave:

There’s no right or wrong answer here. I would simply give people options, as shown in the screenshot in my first post.

Pixelmator does this right, I think. The simple ability to reposition panels helps a lot in terms of productivity.

Personally, I’m a fan of having the layers panel on the far right, with the inspector right next to it, and the tools panel right next to the inspector panel. That’s because I always work in SideCar with Apple Pencil, am right handed, and it’s easier for me to pick a layer, then a tool and adjust its properties, all in one place instead of having to travel to the left edge of the screen to pick a layer, but that’s just me.

Now imagine working on a 3840 x 1080 business monitor like mine. Perhaps you have one of those, super wide screens. The travel time between one side of the screen and another dramatically increases, especially with Sketch’s current layout. Having everything on one side is a use case that might be favorable for some, instead of traveling left to right, right to left, constantly. That’s, ofc, just one side of the story, and there’s many.

Again, Pixelmator did it right, managed to strike the right balance through simplicity.

PS: My preferred layout in the video is the Photography layout.

Hey, thanks so much for sharing this @Kilobyte9335 this is really useful for us and we really appreciate it!

As you mention, there’s no right way to customize your apps, it’s a preference and all are valid but at the same time, your use case covers a lot of ground and it gives a great starting point!

Thanks again for taking the time to share this. I’ve documented it as a Feature Request :raised_hands:

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@dfmedrano, one observation of mine is that—when working on the UI and thinking about the concepts—perhaps what could be considered when rethinking the layout is which elements could go where in terms of necessities vs nice to have. Take this picture, for example:

This is my current layout in Affinity Designer. The left box shows panels that are mostly informational, thus may not necessarily need to be interacted with as often, and one wouldn’t travel there with the mouse or pencil that much, just glimpse at them.

The boxes on the right, from my POV, (not necessarily considering all panel tabs, just the visible parts) show the absolutely must-have, always ON elements that I frequently interact with, since I’m right handed and work in SideCar with Apple Pencil. It’s very easy this way to pick the right layer, immediately pick the tools, adjust them and use them, while just hovering to the left with my eyes for awareness.

Again, this is different for everyone and others may prefer it otherwise, which makes it a complicated topic with no rights and wrongs. I firmly believe that allowing for a tiny bit of customization like with Pixelmator, also considering what I pointed out just now, won’t hurt the current experience of the product (won’t make it convoluted) since it’s always optional and completely reversible.

PS: For the nit-picky people reading this, just ignore the layer naming, as this is just a personal document where I didn’t care much about naming every layer accordingly :crazy_face: