Text Editor Behavior Redesign

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.

(4 weeks)


Users complained about this unintuitive text editor interface, which looked like ruled notebook paper.

  • Most users did not understand that font size determined the height of each row, and thereby the number of rows that would fit on a document.
  • Some users wanted to set a fixed number of rows in their document before entering content.
  • Other users wanted a flexible number of rows that would adjust while entering content.
  • Keyboard navigation between rows and multiple labels was unpredictable.
  • In order to support legacy users, we could not eliminate this document format.
Screenshot of a label editor using a ruled text rows document layout.
This legacy text editor was unintuitive.


Redesign the text editor behavior to be intuitive and consistent.


Users were expecting this interface to work like a word processor. I redesigned the editor to have similar behavior.

  • Initially, only 1 line exists.
  • Typing ENTER adds another row below the focused one.
  • Typing BACKSPACE in an empty row removes it and focuses on the row above it.

Vertical alignment was a new challenge. Where a word processor typically adds content from the top down, labels are often designed so that content is centered vertically.

Illustration of Ideal Text Rows Behavior, similar to a word processor.
One of my early whiteboard drawings of the improved text editor experience.

Optionally, I gave the user the option to set a fixed number of rows during document setup.

Illustration showing variable number of text rows versus a fixed number of text rows.
Illustration comparing a variable number of rows and a fixed number of rows.

In case users disliked the hatching and dashed-line guides in the interface, I also gave them an option to hide them.

Illustration showing guidelines turned on, and guidelines turned off.
Illustration comparing guides turned on and off.


Through several UI iterations in Axure, this new behavior tested extremely well in usertesting.com. The new controls were fit well into the existing editor and supported all legacy settings. Tech support cases and user complaints about this interface decreased by 98%.

Screenshot of label design software, showing new document setup controls for text rows and other formatting.
Users found this new behavior very intuitive and predictable.