OS X Mavericks Dashboard Redesign Concept

OS X Mavericks dashboards, existing and re-imagined.

When one of our designers, Saravana, recently updated his Mac OS the look and feel of the dashboard left him dissatisfied. On his own time, he re-imagined the dashboard widgets and posted an article on Medium walking through his design process. We’re excited to share his ideas and design concepts. Which dashboard do you prefer? Share your feedback in the comments.

The Need

When I recently switched over to the Mavericks OS X, I was excited to see the updates Apple had made. But what really caught my attention was the dashboard. The widget section seemed completely out of place and didn’t mesh well with the flat design trend Apple has been following.

So I decided to get my hands dirty and come up with a concept of how I thought the dashboard should be designed. To make sure it wasn’t just another re-skinning or beautification layer to the existing layout, I made some small yet useful modifications that actually enhance the dashboard experience for users.

The Challenge

In terms of its user experience, I think the Mavericks dashboard could be greatly improved. The biggest challenge in developing the new concept: design useful, effective widgets using as little screen space as possible, since most widgets are used for viewing content quickly and at-a-glance to aid in a specific task.

For example – when planning a road trip, you might want to check the weekly weather forecast so you can pack the right clothes. You quickly fire up the weather widget and glance at the weekly forecast. This is one of the general use-cases for dashboard widgets, and they’re often used while in the middle of another task. Making the widgets small is essential so using them doesn’t hinder the view of current tasks in the background.

Sometimes designers get unintentionally caught up in all the cool visual things they can do (which will rack up lots of likes on Dribbble). But this “show off” kind of thinking can end up compromising the usability and experience of the redesign. In the past I’ve done the same thing – redesigning something out of pure excitement rather than usefulness. But I took a disciplined approach to this design. So in this dashboard concept I tried to stay focused, and worked on reducing clutter, cleaning up the widgets and making them more intuitive.

“I tried to stay focused, and worked on reducing clutter, cleaning up the widgets and making them more intuitive.”

Weather widget on mavericks dashboard.

The Design

Based on my conversation with other users, I picked the most commonly used widgets to redesign, such as the weather forecast, calculator, calendar, etc. In the selected widgets, I focused on the details of one widget in multiple states, improving usability, removing some of the not-so-useful features and overall making them more simple, yet still visually appealing.

Auto-Aligned grid on re-imagined OS X Mavericks dashboard.

Auto-Align to Grid

From my own personal experience as well as feedback from my user scenarios, I’ve noticed that once you get to 6—8 widgets it becomes difficult to organize them. The customization possibilities and flexibility of the dashboard are what give a user their freedom, but I wanted the user to focus on their information objective rather than organizing widgets. Using the auto-grid can help arrange widgets on the screen to keep your dashboard looking clean and keep you focused on your primary task. If you’re a pro-level dashboard user, this feature would definitely be a time saver.

Current location widget by Yahoo on Mavericks dashboard.

Current Location’s Weather

Inspired by the simplicity on the iPhone, instead of having the user type in their current location, I changed it to simply click on the current location icon (an airplane) and the GPS will coordinate your location for you. No hassle!

Overall, the goal of this exercise was to create a beautiful and effective dashboard with a cleaner, simpler and more minimal approach to the widgets. I think I accomplished that, and I designed a dashboard that I would use.

What do you think? Would you use this dashboard?