Logically Organizing Controls

A desktop computer uses label design software to create and print a warning label.

Design Ops

This project is part of a larger desktop software design epic.

(1 week)


This design software has confusing formatting controls.

  • Some controls appeared in a floating property window near the selected object.
  • The floating window often obscured other objects behind it.
  • Other controls appeared in a bottom property sheet, and were not grouped logically.
  • Most controls had lengthy text descriptions that used a lot of UI real estate.
Annotated screenshot showing formatting tools in several different places around the UI.
Formatting controls in several different places.


  • Find a way to prevent objects from being obscured.
  • Group related controls together.


I eliminated the floating property window, and relocated all formatting controls to the bottom property sheet. I also replaced named controls with iconic ones to maximize real estate and minimize language translations. I created an Axure prototype and validated it with usertesting.com.

Formatting tools shown as icons all in a single toolbar.
Formatting controls shown as icons in a toolbar.


Logically grouped controls were easier to navigate. Iconic controls saved screen real estate. Removing the unnecessary floating dialog kept all objects visible at all times.