How do you layout your app to save screen real estate

I’m trying to keep my app down to one window. For a general idea, here is a screenshot
I do have a few more windows (i.e. for chat, one to report app update) but I’d like to make better use of the primary window.

I’m hoping to add some messaging features and am thinking of having an “inbox” on the right tab. I’m debating whether it needs a “friends list” window and “messaging client” window.

For now, I’ve been thinking of just adding tabPanels, but the app seems cramped, but I’d like more opinions.

Actually, I tend to have the least number of functions possible on one screen. I generally break the process in logical blocks, which may or may not correspond to a business process function. To one logical block corresponds a wiindow, screen or web page. This approach requires more windows, but it keeps users focused. In the end, this approach reduces the number of user errors. My target users are business users, who view using a system as a necessary evil. I would probably design differently for expert users.

So you suggest maybe moving some of this out into other windows?

Would you be willing to post a screenshot? I think maybe I should move that “Browser” panel out to its own window. People would still find it, because they can click one of the buttons on the right menu.

Designing interfaces can be challenging. There needs to be a flow, a logical “I want to do this, and this is how.” Hard to explain, but think of it like using an apple product. You tend to be able to just guess where everything is. iPhone? You want to set a passcode? Okay well it’s obviously under settings, but which section? Oh that one says Passcode!

The trick is to make it so your user can guess how to use your app without any kind of instruction (or worse a book.) Things need to be placed exactly where an untrained user would expect them to. That’s why with OSX Apple got rid of the “Special” menu, it was too open to totally random functions.

Want to learn more about an application? It must be under the Application menu! Change a setting for the application? Application menu! This file, I like it, I want to save it. File menu > save.

Block things together, by categories, in very obvious locations.

I have specific thoughts on your interface if you’d like to hear them.