Recently, the developers have brought a lot of features to Obsidian, which makes it into a very flexible note-taking app. However, the flexibility comes at a cost, which as a user, makes me feel overwhelmed every time I open the app. So many panels, buttons and settings.
So I think for mass adoption, UI optimization should go hand in hand with feature development. Right now Obsidian already has ‘enough’ features to be a decent note-taking app for most cases. I think optimizations could go in two directions:
- Designing a more minimal and intuitive interface, meaning hiding buttons and panes and showing them only when the user has an intent, e.g. when hovering. Also a more intuitive behavior for easier navigation between notes.
- Make some design choices as defaults. The plugin system is a clever move, but making everything plugin-izable will make the new user experience a mess. For that I think the devs can make some design decisions as a default, either through their intuitive sense or through the most common use case (by making a UI category for voting on this forum, for example). Of course users can still change these in settings if they want.
Below are some of my suggestions:
- Display backlinks right inside note pane. It gets quite confusing when I need to look at the backlinks on the outer right pane for my note on the outer left pane.
- Reduce the number of panes by grouping some of them or making them appear on hover
- Reduce the number of UI elements, e.g. close button shown when hovering over note title; remove pin button (who needs this anymore if you can middle-click or Ctrl-click to open new notes like Chrome, which Obsidian now supported)
- Display the number of backlinks right on the backlink button, and display the word count right inside note pane. That way the bottom pane can be disabled.
- Combine Search with File Switcher, to form a universal search bar.
- Borrow the navigating behaviors of Chrome, which many people are familiar with.
- The Wiki-link suggestion is almost unusable for me recently, as it is cluttered with folder path and all types of file. At least there should be a setting to disable it.
I hope to hear your comments about what you think might make Obsidian more pleasant to use.