KDE Human Interface Guidelines

The KDE Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) offer designers and developers a set of recommendations for producing beautiful, usable, and consistent user interfaces for convergent desktop and mobile applications and workspace widgets. Their aim is to improve the experience for users by making application and widget interfaces more consistent and hence more intuitive and learnable.

Different DPIs on desktop and mobile

‘’Simple by default, powerful when needed.’‘

Design Vision

KDE’s design vision focuses on two attributes of KDE software that connect its future to its history:

  • Simple by default - Simple and inviting. KDE software is pleasant to experience and easy to use.

  • Powerful when needed - Power and flexibility. KDE software allows users to be effortlessly creative and efficiently productive.

Design Principles

The following design principles are used in support of the Design Vision.

  • Simple by default

    • Make it easy to focus on what matters. - Remove or minimize elements not crucial to the primary or main task. Use spacing to keep things organized. Use color to draw attention. Reveal additional information or optional functions only when needed.

    • I know how to do that! - Make things easier to learn by reusing design patterns from other applications. Other applications that use good design are a precedent to follow.

    • Do the heavy lifting for me. - Make complex tasks simple. Make novices feel like experts. Create ways in which your users can naturally feel empowered by your software.

  • Powerful when needed

    • Solve a problem. - Identify and make very clear to the user what need is addressed and how.

    • Always in control. - It should always be clear what can be done, what is currently happening, and what has just happened. The user should never feel at the mercy of the tool. Give the user the final say.

    • Be flexible. - Provide sensible defaults but consider optional functionality and customization options that do not interfere with the primary task.

Note

Note: KDE encourages developing and designing for customization, while providing good default settings. Integrating into other desktop environments is also a virtue, but ultimately we aim for perfection within our own Plasma desktop environment with the default themes and settings. This aim should not be compromised.