Instapaper-esque bookmarking

March 31, 2009

I already discussed this in an e-mail thread with Greg and Bill, but I thought it would be relevent to reiterate here. is another bookmarking site only it doesn’t look like it’s for social use (i.e. sharing with others). There are defeinitely features that are really cool though. One feature that I really like is the bookmark toolbar button. What it’s for is for users to be able to browse the internet and when they see a site that they like, they can just click on the button in their toolbar and the site will automatically be saved to their Instapaper account. How cool is that!? Needless to say I was really impressed by this. It makes saving bookmarks so much easier. I don’t even have to copy and paste the URL, give it a name or anything. It just saves right to my account and the next time I log into Instapaper, it’s there! Amazing! Once logged in, users can edit the link descriptions, set stars, delete, and add more bookmarks. 
I think that if Basie can have that kind of toolbar functionality, students will be more likely to use it. The toolbar button could automatically save the page into the user’s project/group and allow access by other members of the project. If a user is in multiple projects/groups, then it should be saved in an “unsorted bookmarks” section, where the next time the user logs in to view their bookmarks, they will be prompted to set a group for those bookmarks. Or, those unsorted bookmarks will be highlighted at the top of all the bookmarks to draw attention to them to let the user know that they are currently unsorted. Once a bookmark is sorted into a project/group it can then be edited and viewed by other members of the group. 
Here are preliminary screens of unsorted bookmarks and sorting them. 

Notice that in the second image, Groups 3 and 5 have been added and the button on the bottom says Next Bookmark. If there are no more bookmarks, then the button should say Done. This way of bookmarking assumes that nobody would bookmark pages for personal use and so every bookmark SHOULD belong to at least one group. I think that it makes sense to make all bookmarks and pages accessibly to at least one group because if a user wanted a bookmark for personal use, it’s more likely that they would use a thirdparty site or just save it in their own browser. 

Please feel free to comment on this and whether there are preferences that perhaps I’m overlooking. Thanks!


March 24, 2009

After looking at the calendar at , this is what Basie 0.3 needs. Well something similar. The main features that we would like is the ease of just clicking times that you’re available and sending it out to other people to get a concensus on when would be most convenient to have a meeting or other group gatherings. If Basie were to pick this up, we would have to determine how the average user would like to use it or design it in such a way that they could use it however they like. The second option would seem more difficult and likely less design and user friendly.

Currently, that calendar gives user the option to select available meeting times and the time chunks can be specified by the user with the 15/30/60/day buttons on the top left. (That actually really confused me for a while and did not catch on that that was what those buttons did)
I like the simplicity of being able to just click on/off a time. I would like a click and drag kind of rectangle to select multiple squares at one time. This way if I have large chunks of time where I’m available, then I don’t have to select each square individually.
In the options menu, I like being able to select dates to show. However, I do feel that option should be visible at all times and not hidden away. I also like being able to adjust the time range display during the day with a separate option to highlist a certain time range.
After at least two users have inputted their availability time, the calendar has green squares and grey square with red dots in them. I think that’s a neat idea because the green squares indicate times when everyone can make it and if you click on a square with a red dot, it shows which users cannot make it at that time. (Thinking back now, this would have made deciding when to have basie IRC meetings much easier).

I just took a look at In my opinion, it was OK. nothing really blew me away and although the process was pretty streamlined, it took way too many steps to complete the creation of an even and too many pages to load as well.

For Basie, I think it’s most important to find out what users will actually be using this for. Would they use it primarily for scheduling a weekly meeting? or will their meetings be determined on a week to week basis? I like the Blackberry calendar application because it allows for re-occurrence of an event. So I can input something like a weekly class and have it re-occur every Monday and Wednesday until a specified end date. This is definitely a useful option when setting schedules. This will also help users plan meetings over the course of the term if the regularly scheduled meeting time is problematic for one or two weeks only. However, if Basie users are only going to use this tool once in the beginning of the term and then never need it again, something more like might be sufficient. Just set up the ‘event’ once and everyone remember it. Personally, I’d prefer to have something more like a calendar over a single event organizer.

Suppose we go for a calendar application. Here are some features that I think would be nice/necessary:

– Display on a week to week basis with “->”,”<-” arrows to go from previous or next week respectively.
– Month view should highlight, when the user has an event to attend or assignment due. Should look like a calendar month (no hour scheduling display)
– When viewing days or week, option to chunk time into hour or half hour intervals only.
– re-occurance of events (i e repeat every monday and wednesday until *some day*)
– notification of who has not responded or inputted their availability
– indicator to see which times/dates EVERYONE can attend and indicator to see which times/dates some people cannot (with list showing who is in either category)
Any other thoughts? I’m going to try and have something sketched for this, but want some input first.

Bookmarking Dilemmas…

March 20, 2009

I’ve been waiting for more comments on the previous posts before I made any more decision just to get some feedback. Got some good comments from Liz (many thanks again).

Some important things of note:

How many different layers of privacy should there be? It makes sense to have personal bookmarks, group bookmarks, and public bookmarks. personal bookmarks are pretty straightforward, and the current sketch of the interface will support that just fine. The group bookmarks are somewhat trickier. I think that if a user selects that, a new selection box or check-boxes should appear of the groups/projects they belong to. Then they can select which project can see that bookmark. Otherwise the public bookmark will be seen by everyone.

How public should public bookmarks be? could unauthenticated users view them? or should that be a separate level altogether? I think that all public bookmarks should be available to everyone, even unauthenticated users. However, they should not be allowed to comment or edit the bookmark. This is similar to a bulletin board where people can see posts, but not reply unless they’re logged in.

Speaking of comments, I will be adding more sketches of what the “Bookmarks” page should look like with comments. I think that if we are going the route of giving users updates upon log in, then any new bookmarks that they can view (but not necessarily edit) should also appear in that list. Also, authenticated users should be allowed to comment on any bookmark they can view and only the person who posted the bookmark should be allowed to change it (i.e. if the link was incorrect or note was wrong, then only the creator could go and change that). Again, unauthenticated users could view public bookmarks, but not comment or edit them.

I’m also thinking of changing the “New Bookmark” button to just a text field where users can just type in a site url and hit enter. That would make it much easier to do, but then we get into privacy setting issues. Should the default be private for the user or public? I think in that case, the default should be private to the user, so that they can create bookmarks fairly quickly and if they decide to share it, then they can go through the extra steps to do so. In that case, should the text field be inside or outside the tabs? If we put it inside the tabs, then the default would be context sensitive depending on where it is. if we put it outside, then the default would be private for the user.

I think I need comments on that. There are so many options. Much sketch and show everyone!

Bookmark Drawings

March 13, 2009

Those are two images I made about the social bookmarking feature for basie. I went with the tab feature because I thought that would be an easy way to navigate through the bookmarks especially if users have many different levels. The “New Bookmarks” tab is like an update of new bookmarks that the user has permission to see. So either group bookmarks or global bookmarks. This may not be necessary, if we include newly created bookmarks as part of the events log or some other page where the suer can get updates. The “New Bookmark” button will be available in every tab and clicking on it, will cause a dialog box to appear with the appropriate fields to craete a new window. The default “Share with” option will depend on the context in which the “Create Bookmark” button was selected and in “New Bookmarks” I’m not sure what the default should be yet. Right now it says “Nobody” but I think that should be “Everybody”. The options will be “Nobody”, “Group”, “Everybody”.

I haven’t worked out what to do if the user is part of several groups and wants specific bookmarks for each group. I’m also not sure what to do about editing bookmarks either. I think that users should only be able to edit bookmarks that they created, but allowed to comment of every bookmark. This is something I have not included in the above sketches.

This is it for now. Thanks!

Social Bookmarking "Research"

March 11, 2009

Asked to design a simple bookmarking tool for Basie now. I’ve been looking around for some good examples, and these seem to be the best though I looked through several more.

* Furl
* Google – what doesn’t google have?
* Simpy

The main features in most bookmarking sites:
* URL (obviously necessary)
* title
* description
* tags

Google’s bookmark saver is essentially the most basic one you can have. It only allows you to add, remove, and edit your own bookmarks. So it does not allow sharing and viewing other users’. This feature is tied in to browsing history.

One thing I’ve noticed with many of these sites is that the ability to add a new bookmark is always somewhat hidden away or not noticable at all. I even encountered one site that does not even allow you to add a bookmark! (unless of course I just couldn’t find it, which isn’t any better)

Some sites don’t take you directly to the site when you click on it. It will first take you to a more details view. I’m personally not a fan and I think that in the context of Basie, it would just be easier and more intuitive to make the link take you straight to the page that’s bookmarked.

Simpy has a very simple, yet not very visually appealing, interface. I like the little [+] next to links and notes to add a new link or note. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of notes are. Simpy also allows users to create a group, watch other users, and see who’s watching them. There is also a “similar users” field that, I’m going to assume, will display users who have similar links as you.

Another feature of most bookmarking sites is the ability to set the privacy level of the bookmark. Most only offer public or private. For Basie, it would make sense to have public, group, and private (though private may not be used very much).

One thing I was thinking about for this feature for Basie is the ability to easily share information among the class from the prof and from students. I am taking CSC318 which is an HCI course, and all the students are given access to all the other group projects. This would definitely make that easier to manage since at the moment, we’re using a wiki page that the TA’s and professor post the projects to. If every group could just bookmark a link to their document or web application, it would make it easier to get information. However, unless the course is designed in such a way where teams are able to see other teams’ work, then there would not be much use for this. I can envision it being used mostly by the professor posting useful links with the occasional student doing so as well. Then in that case, an announcement, blog post, wiki, forum post, or e-mail would be sufficient.

This is it for now. I might edit this in the near future.

Summary of Usability Testing

March 9, 2009

This is a summary of all the usability testing that was done excluding the card sort. I’m not entirely sure how to evaluate those.

Dr. Project Usage:
Used mainly for wiki as place to keep meeting notes and contact information. Thought it was useful in managing larger groups.
Most conversations happened over e-mail and actually in meetings.
Revision history and event log was also found useful by another subject.
Tickets were not considered part of the work flow. It was mostly used to tell other group members to do something

Default search settings for global navigational search area should search based on the current scope. So if the user is viewing a certain project, they would expect that the general search will be in the scope of that project and if they are viewing all projects, then the search should be in the scope of all projects. Possibly context sensitive as well.
General Search default setting should be across all projects and content types with option to set scope from search box.
Could add Blog to content types
Change date formatting and text prompts since they are unclear and confusing to users.
Allowing regular expression and special syntax for search would be useful for more users who are accustomed to using them.
Alternate design idea for projects – make projects listed in drop down menu with an add button next to it. Then the user will select a project, click on “Add” button and a list will appear with their selections. It will also have to allow for users to remove projects. This list could then be saved to the user preferences as their default for advanced and general searches if they want.
Possibly rename Event Log to “Recent Activity” since event log can be somewhat confusing to some users.
Help pages should have its own search by either adding it to content type, but not including it in general search or embed it in the help menus.
Rename Mail to “Mail Archive”.
Allow search for users to find what they have changed or to find contact information possibly as well as the ability to search by user.

Search Results:
Familiarity with result formatting since it’s similar to Google.
Drawback to dropdowns and left column filtering is that it only allows you to select one of each project or category. It doesn’t let users select more than one project or one or more categories at the same time.
Side bar: 3, Drop Downs: 0
Adding a visual cue as to what filtering is selected would be helpful such as a highlighting on the side bar category and project. We could also add “in project and content” to result titles.
Result items should somehow display what project they belong to.
Allowing users to vote on result relevancy.
Someone incorporating the advanced search options into the results page so that users don’t lose that information they inputted.
Allowing users to sort their results based on types or projects is missing from the search results.
Pagination is on the fence, but definitely don’t need “previous page” and “next page” in arrow-ed pagination option.

The main content pane should also contain directories.
Option for users to type in the directory path that they want. So possibly a text box next to the breadcrumbs where users can type in the directory and file they want to view.
Filtering files or distinguishing between file types with icons would be useful to see if the file is an image or a text file.
When viewing files, the filename should be shown in the bread crumbs and the revision comment should also be shown somewhere. Some revision messages may not be file specific, so displaying the message when viewing a file might not be useful.
In showing more details, it would be more useful to see who committed the previous revisions. Also changing the whole row to be clickable or allowing users to click on the old revision will take them to a diff rather than having a “diff” link for each item.

File Differencing:
Having both panes linked and only one scroll bar. The placement of the scroll bar is undecided since all three test subject each chose a different option.I think they wanted just the browser to be the method of scrolling -Liz 3/8/09 11:58 AM
One test subject didn’t like the highlighting in both files. Perhaps only highlighting in the file that changed (i.e. the line that was added, or removed but still adjust whitespace in the other file)
One additional idea is to add a menu of function or class headers where users can jump to them.
The ability to change revisions from differencing is also another important feature.
Someone (though I think outside of testing) also said they really wanted it to be all in-line instead of side-by-side. We might want to get more opinions on that. -Liz 3/8/09 11:58 AM

Statistics seemed like more of a project management item to think about.
Not an accurate measurement of productivity in most cases.
Timeline of deadlines and meetings with a calendar would be a nice feature.
Graph of open and closed tickets or bugs is another feature mentioned that would be useful to have.
Option to set graphs based on time range such as “Since last login” or “Over all time” to give users more of an update of how much was done since they last logged in. Another user preference could be the Breakdown based on project branches.
If there were a point system, then it would be nice to see rankings and point breakdowns in.

Landing Page:
Before logging in, users should be able to see featured projects, management contact information, general recent announcements, and the blog.
After logging in, users should be able to see updates, recent project activities, user preferences page link, wiki updates.
Users should have an option to select the order and grouping of updates. Events that occurred since last update should be highlighted.
If a project has had no activity a statement like “No activity has occurred since last log in” should appear.
Frequently used pages and announcements are useful. Users should also be able to send announcements for their group. That expire after a certain amount of time or if the user removes/hides them.
An RSS feed for events would be good for users that like to subscribe.

IA Redesign:
Must change Project: edit.
Perhaps putting a search bar within each tab to do relative searches within that context.

iPlotz Advanced Search

March 4, 2009

I worked on this as well over the week in iPlotz. That is a VERY useful tool. I think my only problem with it would be the rendering time. It’s a little slow on the drag and drop and opening of windows. This could also be my laptop since I haven’t tried it on any other computers. Anyways, I think it looks much better than the terrible photoshop I did of the other one. It’s cleaner which is nice. I did also change the Last Updated section based on the option they had in iPlotz.
Again, don’t forget to comment! Thanks!