I’m wondering what you would do if you were in my position: I’m designing the docking and snapping behavior for a desktop application centralized around window management. I’m trying to perform research on some best practices regarding docking groups, detaching windows, and snapping behavior, but I can’t figure out any effective methods beyond comparative research, and not many pieces of software have this behavior. I don’t want to rip-off competitor paradigms completely, but I’m also at a loss of what else to do that doesn’t involve guesswork.
I’ve considered making a prototype for user testing, but it would prove intensely difficult to replicate smooth docking behavior and resizing behavior inside of docked groups. Overall, there are a boatload of assumptions to test in terms of what people would prefer and we don’t have the time to user test all the assumptions. Also, part of me is entirely skeptical of whether I should have laymen weighing in on these very specific and nuanced interface decisions (e.g., “What should happen to these other 8 windows when this corner is dragged this way?”). I’ve been making educated guesses for what is intuitive, but I know UX isn’t supposed to be guesswork.
This underpins a larger problem I continue to have, which relates to researching desktop application behavior. I feel like I’m in a weird place because the UX universe is so web- and mobile-centric that I have a difficult time finding best practices or patterns for desktop behavior. I have a copy of About Face, but it doesn’t go in-depth enough. I’ve also looked at Apple and Microsoft’s respective guidelines for desktop/human UI behavior but they often miss the mark.
Does anyone here deal with desktop interfaces? Where have you found the most valuable research regarding desktop patterns? Does remote user research help you make nuanced decisions? How far has competitive research gotten you?
Thanks in advance.