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A little background, I am working on a controller for use with various studies. For this particular study there are multiple phases from 1-6, each of the buttons in the picture below make the robot say something, or do a specific motion.

enter image description here

Image taken from :

As you can see it's very cluttered, it's not that bad on a large monitor but I still want to change it. I am trying to think of a way to make it look better. More specifically the far left column. I was thinking of a drop down menu with labels for each phase, however the user will need to switch between phases and this takes some time going back and forth.

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Can you resize the buttons in the far left column (if possible) ? as it is taking more space there. – talktokets Jul 23 '13 at 18:38
Wow, that is one overwhelming window. As a user, I wouldn't even know where to begin! – 17 of 26 Jul 23 '13 at 18:50
@kedar it's all written in python using PyQt4, I'm sure that it is possible to do. – user2593573 Jul 23 '13 at 19:35
@user2593573 : So please try that option of resizing buttons in all the panels. It will free up more space and the UI will be more proper. So in that case the UI will look good in almost all the devices. Also the suggestion by Alexey is one of the good solution. – talktokets Jul 23 '13 at 19:45
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The interface indeed is too complex, but there is a little context to give improvements. As for your particular question, you could use tree-like folding structure, see picture. Currently your buttons use the space unefficiently, the column is narrow but buttons waste the space so the entire text is not visible.
enter image description here

Switching to the next phase auto-closes previous phase to focus user on the current phase. Phase numbering has no big sense, because time marks in headers set the order (i.e. phases) themself.

Finally, the folded tree allows you to read the entire consequense of actions via headers.

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The time marks on phases (0 min, Phase 1) includes all actions/speech to be said between 0 minutes into the study and 5 minutes. I like the suggestion of a folding tree structure, thanks! – user2593573 Jul 23 '13 at 19:40

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