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So I'm kinda stuck and I hope someone here can help me. I'm building this Control Panel for a data center, and I'm not very good with that. I want to make it as simplistic as possible, but expandable - since at first it will only contain a few functions but it will continue to grow for a long time.

I'm looking for some ideas, examples.

Edit: I ended up buying an administration theme from themeforest. Thanks everybody for your input!

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There's not enough details for us to provide any real feedback for you. Do you have a sketch we can see? –  DA01 Jun 21 '11 at 14:15
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Help us to help you! Give us some context to work in. –  Roger Attrill Jun 21 '11 at 14:29
    
the context is really loose - I will need some navigation through various categories of controls, a search input... something like this, but a lot simpler: derekallard.com/blog/post/… –  donkapone Jun 21 '11 at 16:13
    
Those screen shots contain dozens of UI elements and flows. You say you are 'stuck'. What, exactly, are you stuck on? How far have you gotten? –  DA01 Jun 21 '11 at 17:44
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your question needs a lot more detail. But I feel I can give you some guidance based on what you did give so far. I will update my answer if you provide more.

When you are building a control panel you are really building a portal. And a portal you need to summarize everything as bes you can into categories. You can do this by card sorting or other methods.

Also, when you know something is going to expand and you want to leave room its best to use a modular approach, meaning each piece is self contained and similar in styles.

Lastly, remember that you don't have to add a lot of style for your control panel to be useful. You can add icons to help people scan but don't be afraid to use text too.

Good luck!

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Well, the question is not nearly specific enough to provide a concrete answer, but I find that skype-like control panels work well for clients and users. For other good examples try Chrome, Firefox and Windows 7 - depending on the size of your app.

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