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design question - what makes a page of options clear for the user?

 
 
lawrence
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      09-28-2003
We (publicpen.com) are designing a new weblogging service, similar to
Typepad. Our graphic designers (Misty Vredenburg and Peter Agelasto)
are currently doing multiple design mock-ups of possible control
panels. These would be the panels you arrive after you, the owner of
the website, log into your secret, password-protected control-page. We
are trying to figure out what visual arrangement makes the options the
most clear.

None of the links work yet, but if you can guess their meaning from
their arrangement on the page, and the words that were choosen for
them, then our designers must be doing something right.

Comments welcome. One design can be seen here:

http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389




and here is another:

http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662
 
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Whitecrest
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      09-28-2003
In article <(E-Mail Removed) >,
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) says...
> We (publicpen.com) are designing a new weblogging service, similar to
> Typepad. Our graphic designers (Misty Vredenburg and Peter Agelasto)
> are currently doing multiple design mock-ups of possible control
> panels. These would be the panels you arrive after you, the owner of
> the website, log into your secret, password-protected control-page. We
> are trying to figure out what visual arrangement makes the options the
> most clear.
> None of the links work yet, but if you can guess their meaning from
> their arrangement on the page, and the words that were choosen for
> them, then our designers must be doing something right.
> Comments welcome. One design can be seen here:
> http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
> and here is another:
> http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662


Well I guess you could make them a little more plain if you really
tried. If this is the best your graphic designers can come up with, you
might want to look for different talent.

--
Whitecrest Entertainment
www.whitecrestent.com
 
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Toby A Inkster
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      09-28-2003
lawrence wrote:

> http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
> http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662


See this message (excluding the last paragraph).
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm...0goddamn.co.uk

--
Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
Contact Me - http://www.goddamn.co.uk/tobyink/?id=132

 
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Talc Ta Matt
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      09-28-2003
You've got a lot crammed onto one page. If I were doing this I'd get some of
that stuff onto the sub pages.

For instance, there's no reason to have all those management things on there.

Just say...

WEBLOG ENTRY
new entry, manage old entries

FILES
upload, manage

IMAGES
upload, manage

Then of course on the manage pages you'd have options for specific things.

 
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lawrence
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      10-08-2003
Whitecrest <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<(E-Mail Removed)> ...
> In article <(E-Mail Removed) >,
> (E-Mail Removed) says...
> > We (publicpen.com) are designing a new weblogging service, similar to
> > Typepad. Our graphic designers (Misty Vredenburg and Peter Agelasto)
> > are currently doing multiple design mock-ups of possible control
> > panels. These would be the panels you arrive after you, the owner of
> > the website, log into your secret, password-protected control-page. We
> > are trying to figure out what visual arrangement makes the options the
> > most clear.
> > None of the links work yet, but if you can guess their meaning from
> > their arrangement on the page, and the words that were choosen for
> > them, then our designers must be doing something right.
> > Comments welcome. One design can be seen here:
> > http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
> > and here is another:
> > http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662

>
> Well I guess you could make them a little more plain if you really
> tried. If this is the best your graphic designers can come up with, you
> might want to look for different talent.



I appreciate all the responses on this thread. The design with a lot
of options is meant to test the theory that users infer meaning from
context. It's an idea that both Edward Tufte and Jakob Nielsen have
pushed. The other design was scrapped and the designer started over
again with something different:

http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=398
 
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PeterMcC
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      10-08-2003
lawrence wrote:
> Whitecrest <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:<(E-Mail Removed)> ...
>> In article <(E-Mail Removed) >,
>> (E-Mail Removed) says...
>>> We (publicpen.com) are designing a new weblogging service, similar
>>> to Typepad. Our graphic designers (Misty Vredenburg and Peter
>>> Agelasto) are currently doing multiple design mock-ups of possible
>>> control panels. These would be the panels you arrive after you, the
>>> owner of the website, log into your secret, password-protected
>>> control-page. We are trying to figure out what visual arrangement
>>> makes the options the most clear.
>>> None of the links work yet, but if you can guess their meaning from
>>> their arrangement on the page, and the words that were choosen for
>>> them, then our designers must be doing something right.
>>> Comments welcome. One design can be seen here:
>>> http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
>>> and here is another:
>>> http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662

>>
>> Well I guess you could make them a little more plain if you really
>> tried. If this is the best your graphic designers can come up with,
>> you might want to look for different talent.

>
>
> I appreciate all the responses on this thread. The design with a lot
> of options is meant to test the theory that users infer meaning from
> context. It's an idea that both Edward Tufte and Jakob Nielsen have
> pushed.


If the above is your theorising, my apologies for any offence in the
following; however, if it is the underlying principal that the designers are
claiming is driving their work, they're talking tendentious nonsense. There
is no "theory" being "tested" - that meaning is in part derived from context
has been established beyond any doubt for some considerable time.

I may be missing something but the designs that have been suggested look to
be largely artless and unattractive - sold as a good thing because they are
at the cutting edge of some supposedly radical concept about meaning and
context. I'd be inclined to get the designers to re-examine some of the less
radical notions - form and function looks like a good place to start.


> The other design was scrapped and the designer started over
> again with something different:
>
> http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=398


--
PeterMcC
If you feel that any of the above is incorrect,
inappropriate or offensive in any way,
please ignore it and accept my apologies.

 
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lawrence
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      10-10-2003
"PeterMcC" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> If the above is your theorising, my apologies for any offence in the
> following; however, if it is the underlying principal that the designers are
> claiming is driving their work, they're talking tendentious nonsense. There
> is no "theory" being "tested" - that meaning is in part derived from context
> has been established beyond any doubt for some considerable time.
>
> I may be missing something but the designs that have been suggested look to
> be largely artless and unattractive - sold as a good thing because they are
> at the cutting edge of some supposedly radical concept about meaning and
> context. I'd be inclined to get the designers to re-examine some of the less
> radical notions - form and function looks like a good place to start.


Thanks much for your feedback. Your remark is similar to my own
concern, but I'm glad that I won't have to say that to them. I'll
forward your critique to them. My main concern is that neither design
has gone far down its road. For the user test to be much of a test, we
need two really different designs that clearly make different
assumptions about how users interact with a computer screen. I'd like
one design to be to super-heavy with options, and the other design to
have only, at most, 3 options on the screen at a time. And then we can
watch the users interact, and see if they prefer the design that hits
them with all the options at once, or the design that protects them
from that complexity. And so far, neither of these designs go very far
in the direction they are supposed to go.
 
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lawrence
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      10-10-2003
By the way, I encourage you to leave your remarks over on those pages,
rather than here. Both pages have the comments function enabled.
However, I do also ask that you tone it down it a bit. Several of the
replies so far have been agressive and hostile. We're looking for
advice, not beligerence. Keep it useful and constructive or please,
please, please don't post.

We begin testing next week so then our opinions will meet reality. The
test will include these two designs, plus the design that TypePad is
using for their service (we've purchased an account on TypePad so our
users can login and post a real weblog entry to the web, using Ben and
Mena Trott's service).

Obviously we are hoping that, in the end, we will come up with a
design that is cleaner and clearer than TypePad. We will keep
listening to user feedback and modifying things accordingly until we
reach that level. By the way, has anyone here used TypePad, and if so,
what do you think of the service?

We also hope that people who've used PostNuke will look at our control
panel and consider our's better. Of course, this won't be very
difficult to acheive.
 
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lawrence
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      10-10-2003
Whitecrest <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> > None of the links work yet, but if you can guess their meaning from
> > their arrangement on the page, and the words that were choosen for
> > them, then our designers must be doing something right.
> > Comments welcome. One design can be seen here:
> > http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
> > and here is another:
> > http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662

>
> Well I guess you could make them a little more plain if you really
> tried. If this is the best your graphic designers can come up with, you
> might want to look for different talent.


As to the plainness, I was personally inspired the extreme minimalism
of Phillip Greenspun's early ArsDigita system:

http://philip.greenspun.com/register...er%5fid%3d6066

Nothing but a little black text on a white background. However, both
of the graphic designers on the team were horrified with the idea of
taking minimalism to such an extreme, and also they made the
reasonable point that the link structure in Greenspun's system is
damned confusing. However, it was another design dimension along which
the designers were supposed to split (and so far have done so to any
significant degree), and I hope they will. The blue/white design is
supposed to be quite minimalist, the other design, is supposed to, in
the end, have a lot of flash and javascript.

Of course, in the end, whatever the users like is what will go with.
The idea is simply to come up with two very different designs, so we
can see which way users lean. If we had the resources we would test 4
designs, and thus test each combination on the two dimensions we
mentioned so far (complexity verus simplicity of choices, and
minimalism versus flashiness).

The blue/white design is pretty much in final form. The other design
has morphed a great deal. I think we'll have another version out by
late Sunday night. It might be worth checking on it then.

Again, I appreciate the feedback.
 
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lawrence
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      10-10-2003
Toby A Inkster <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<(E-Mail Removed) >...
> lawrence wrote:
>
> > http://www.publicdomainsoftware.org/...php?pageId=389
> > http://www.monkeyclaus.org/index.php?pageId=662

>
> See this message (excluding the last paragraph).



You wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This site suffers from the
i've-heard-that-the-font-tag-is-evil-and-div-and-
span-are-better-so-i'll-use-nothing-but-div-and-span syndrome.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Actually, I've found that it is not necessary to use span tags. If you
give a div tag a class, and then in the style sheet you go like this
to the class:

display:inline;

Then the div will behave exactly like a span. So you can build
webpages with nothing by the A tag and creative use of the div tag. It
simplifies the toolset you have to work with, with the benefits that a
carpenter might understand, if the carpenter had to walk around all
day with 5 different hammers in his belt, but then one day discovered
a magic hammer that could take on any shape and do anything he wanted.
So then, instead of 5 hammers, he could use just one, and his life is
made that much more simple.

However, if its true that both designs are made of nothing but a,div,
and span tags, then I'm surprised, because one of our designers does
all his work in Dreamweaver, and I'm under the impression that
Dreamweaver uses the full range of HTML 4.0 tags in the markup that it
creates.
 
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